A Door to Another Ending
When Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution came out in 2007, I marveled at not only Hong’s word play, but also how she married languages and dialect to create another language. The book, which reads as part poetic sequence, part science fiction, offered a blending of genres and how we even imagine a poetry collection. Hong’s book became groundbreaking more than anything because the author was not afraid to take risks. LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, author of the upcoming poetry collection Twerk from Belladonna* Books, deserves as much initial fanfare as was given to Hong. Making its debut in February of 2013, Twerk is an experimental phenomenon in that each poem stands at the precipice of a new beginning, ready to leap into neoteric meaning, sounds and symbolisms. I call the reading experience an explosion of sound.
There is much to like about this work, how the language gets in your bones, and your insides start doing the happy feet. The integration of languages, of idiom and vernacular create myriad avenues. For instance, the poem “gamab click the bedouin remix ii” which includes lines in italics come from Aimé Césaire’s Notes of a Return to my Native Land, exhibits some of the range of Diggs:
light up di egrets plumage
dey sky needles di record on dey turntable of epiphany proudfoot
blazin’ pele’s bass line over runneth di clouds wit kravitz’s arrows
in di rain di blanc-mange seeps from dey dirt
in di mountains maestro spare a seed n sow in peyote stitch
ink loves dey ache; loves dey gamab magma
so listen sparrow hawk who holds the keys to the orient.
Within the same section of “no me entiendes,” which wonderfully plays off the unknown in Diggs work, are what I call bilingual contrapuntals, allowing the reader to marry language into another language. Within this structure Diggs plays (as in Derrida’s play) with the idea of the freeing of constraints through the villanelle “¡cucumber!”:
Lucid to ‘awapuhi que ósa bautizaba ngahuru
Lucid and ginger like lagoons baptizing autumn,
Que tanja iglú flirtatious – corría
like tangerine igloos flirtatious – flowing,
te llama pikaka loli, tu eres onaona ni nalu
your name is jasmine cucumber. You are fragrant like waves.
In Diggs’ work, there never is a complete ending, only a door to another ending. This is not a drive by book where you think you are going to read it in one sitting. Oftentimes I found myself caught in another world, a world authored by a poet unafraid to mix languages for the sake of something new and indeterminate. This book is a giver, it keeps giving.
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs:: Twerk:: Belladonna* Books