Cristina Garcia, “Reincarnated”


I know what you’re thinking.
That I’d probably choose some badass king of the jungle.
But you underestimate me.

I hate when you underestimate me.

As a matter of fact, I’d choose a nightingale.
I’ve never heard one sing but I know they keep
insomniacs company.

What do you know about me, anyway?

If I tell you I’d be a nightingale, believe it.
I happen to know that only unpaired males sing at night
and that they’re iconic in Persian poetry.

You gonna steal that?

Don’t pretend like suddenly you’re this caring, concerned
person when all you’re doing is using my shit.
Let me guess what you’d be, huh? A pirahna?

The Lesser Tragedy of Death is the first collection of poems from Cristina García, who has written several novels for adult and young adult readers. (In fact, Scribner has a new one, The Lady Matador’s Hotel, coming out at the end of the summer.) The collection also includes “Twenty-Nine Palms” (from García’s official website). In a 2007 interview with Chris Abani, the curator of Akashic’s Black Goat poetry line, García describes her writing process:

“I’m constantly sending tap roots into all sorts of unsavory places. That’s an essential part of the mystery and discovery for me. I expect to be disturbed. I hope to be discomfited. I want to be derailed from my suppositions. A lot happens before I even attempt to write the first word of a new novel. For me, it always begins with obsession. I start circling particular subject matter or terrains, reading voraciously, giving myself over to these interests… After the pre-novel saturation I described earlier, I surround myself with poetry books, a shifting array of them. Before I begin a writing day, I will immerse myself in them for an hour or two. Somewhere in that process, if you can call it that, I’ll randomly stumble across an idea, a fragment of language, a single word that will lead me to that day’s work. It’s that unpredictable, at least in writing my early drafts. Poetry is my daily bread.”

23 June 2010 | poetry |