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Poetry Collection Review: Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral

Updated: Sep 9, 2021


Title: Guillotine


Author: Eduardo C. Corral


Themes: Immigration, Self-Identity, Violence, Queerness, Love, Nationalism, Racism


Three Words to Describe the Poems: Experimental, Bleak, Searching



Summary and Comments: This is a beautiful and experimental collection of poetry by Eduardo C. Corral, an assistant professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University. Corral, a son of two Mexican immigrants, uses his poems throughout this collection to explore the journey that immigrants must make when trying to cross the Mexican-American border, expose the exploitation of said immigrants by violent opportunists, comment on the casual racism seen throughout the U.S. Border Patrol, and paint bleak pictures of life as an immigrant taken hostage by the coyotes that often ferry them across the border under the cover of night and darkness, with one poem in particular, ‘1707 San Joaquin Avenue’, being an exploration of a drop house in Phoenix, AZ.

At the same time, don’t let the apparent bleakness and darkness stop you—these poems are rich and lush with language, and Corral mixes in poems that are meditations on life, love, and the sense of self throughout. Many of the poems also switch between Spanish and English at times, so casual knowledge of Spanish, or the gumption to pause and use Google Translate while reading some of the poems, will make the reading experience more enjoyable. Overall, a razor-sharp collection with innovative style and presentation of the various lines and stanzas throughout.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


 

Favorite Poem: ‘Questions for My Body’


Why are you nocturnal


How many cathedrals have you entered


Has cruelty ever saved you


Do you remember the length of his thumbs


Isn’t that enough cake


Have you ever soaked your feet in gasoline


Do you still fear the virus


How can you sleep in this heat


Is that a soul patch


Did you laugh or cry at Keat’s grave


Have you been claimed

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