They come like warring tribes, the adjectives that define the players in Monica McClure’s Mala—one naco, one chiflada, one petocha, and so on: the scared and the arrogant, the playful, sad, the deracinated. How finely the brave female subject of mixed race, suspended in a “local history,/ the ineluctable modality/ of the folkloric,” fills out this place of longing. We all are missing a site, perhaps our youth—hideous as it was—in which an old country was always nonetheless a new country, and in McClure’s precise, wide-eyed and often very lovely adjectival readouts, a new kind of poetry finds itself born, and wants to bare its midriff.
Like the virgin prophetesses who worked, to their peril, at Delphi, suspended on tripods above toxic fumes, Monica McClure’s speakers are glamorous and disheveled—chiflada, as McClure’s mother would say. Their messy orbital selves are spun by competing forces of assertion and withdrawal, predation and display, the competing desires to make a vatic statement and to be over. Yet all these contradictions consolidate in the moment of speech into an acute, deadeye vision, a way of simultaneously seeing and speaking the world with an oracular focus. These poems read like radiant fuses, dazzling glitches, LEDs, roadside flares. They burn themselves onto your retina, and then they burn out.
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Monica McClure’s debut collection, Tender Data, will be published by Birds, LLC this year. She is the author of the chapbooks, Mood Swing, from Snacks Press Inc. and Mala, forthcoming from Poor Claudia. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The Los Angeles Review, The Lit Review, Lambda Literary Review’s Spotlight Series, The Awl, Spork Press, Similar: Peaks:: and elsewhere. She curates Atlas, a collaboration series of visual artists and poets, and lives in New York City.
Hand sewn, letterpressed, 5.25" x 8.5"