It is good that people write, but this person is not a good poet. It is difficult to come up with things to say that are diplomatic yet still true, and I feel I am putting more effort into the review than the writer did into the poems (as happens with grading papers). Of course I should not complain, I do not publish poems, but I also wouldn’t have sent these poems out if they were my writing.
The title of —‘s collection Lavando la Dirty Laundry (Norman, OK: Mongrel Empire Press, 2013) recalls most immediately Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s series “A vida passada a limpo” or “Life in a clean draft,” first published in Poemas (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria José Olympio, 1959). Poetry for Drummond does not purify life, but heightens experience by stripping it down to essences. In the series’ title poem the moon illuminates both the bedroom it has entered and an obscure corner of the self, stirring dark residues to bloom and superimposing sky, room, and consciousness in a “shimmer of death that recalls love.” Treviño’s cleaning metaphor, on the other hand, does not work toward metaphysical abstraction but embraces instead the detritus of life, the crumbs swept up, and the significance of the stories these may tell. The prose poem “A Lesson in Elements” (38) explains how atoms seek mates to form molecules that join again to form soap. Soap and water make suds, which join dirt in an eager marriage that undermines the contrast between clean and dirty, taking life all together. Love is like that.