Book Review: Robert Fernandez’s PINK REEF

Forgive me for comparing, but Fernandez’s first and prior collection, WE ARE PHARAOH, is a starkly different thing and effect/affect than this follow-up, available from the very same Canarium Books.

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Here in PINK REEF, the poems are quick and sharp and gruesome in a beautiful and crystalline way. Here, the body comes in pieces and seems to be on its way out due to its own deep thinking and observing. The body (or maybe the voice) tries desperately to describe and claw at its surrounding world as it implodes in its bloodiness and pinkness.

“find the dragon’s scales seeing in / my stomach’s bleeding”

In this way, I think, the collection does lend itself a thread to its predecessor, as I feel both books try to tackle that wonderfully dense problem of absorbing and describing one’s world. But, again, the form and content are given more canines than molars. It’s similar to the experience, I would imagine (mostly based on stories — okay, entirely based on stories), of acupunture: you come out feeling relieved and renewed but the objects themselves are small and pointed.

The voice itself is still Fernandez’s, but with an entirely different aim and purpose than his first book. I wouldn’t call it a comeback; I’d call it a new set of claws.

“the mounds of roe are / so bright today it’s like / I see the sun for the first / time it’s like I see the sun clearly / in the idea of it it’s like I see the sun / clearly in the black mounds of / shine in the swollen / clear of it”

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