by Kyle Dargan
Pub Date 15 Sep 2018
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The poems speak back to America: “we no longer have faith in you and will not until you give us reason.” The poems are not concerned with gratitude. They are not concerned with coddling the sensibilities of the country’s racial, class, sexual majorities. “The white man believes you when you go to him with that old sweet talk, ‘cause you've been sweet-talking him ever since he brought you here,” Malcolm X once said. “Stop sweet-talking him. Tell him how you feel. Tell him what kind of hell you've been catching[.]” Though it may have been perceived as a threat initially, it is more of a crucial communication strategy, for how can a country get better for a people when those people are constantly asked to temper and carefully couch (or silence) their honest laments? The poet recognizes the hell we have been catching. These poems aim to allow readers to know how catching that hell feels.
"In Dargan's Anagnorisis, what can be called 'disillusionment' is life torquing into complication and deeper possibilities. Here, communities in the micro and macro mangle and contort the speaker out of his focus on systems of oppression and onto oppressed people, decimating all distractions for charismatic calls for joy-'Yes, I am thankful, / but I cannot accommodate you / inside my gratitude,'—such that the speaker can, with wisdom, 'know how a song / do & don't tell.' Dargan leaves no social upheaval untouched. Ecopoetic, internationally erudite, and chiseled by love, these poems 'know the phenomenon that is judgment,' making a torch song into a brilliant resurrection." —Phillip B. Williams, author of Thief in the Interior
“The poems in Anagnorisis are weightlifting; repeatedly pushing the burden of current events—the gentrification of DC, the numberless black deaths at the hands of authority, U.S./Global relations, our rapidly altering ecosystem—away from chest, trying to hold them at a distance, only to pull them back and attempt to master the muscle required to survive and write and celebrate in times like these. ‘Rage would be a word to fit in the mouth/ had the mouth not grown small from watching,’ Dargan writes, and does the work of gracefully making room in his poems to get eye-to-eye with a people’s mammoth rage, and also remind us of the daily, small, and enduring hopes we must have for a better nation and world.” —Elizabeth Acevedo, author of The Poet X