This timely and imaginative collection by Sonia Greenfield reads like a seer’s post-apocalyptic vision of America. Her poems are lucid, emotionally evocative, and wise. In “Ghost Ship,” the speaker advises us that “when a swirl of colored spotlights sets you / spinning, you have to dance as if / the very act of living depends on it.” American Parable is simultaneously dance and doom—and spin you will.
These poems had me at Lakshmi Singh, one of a dozen or so daily-life characters who invite us into the dicey, irresistible country of American Parable.
By turns both playful and menacing, Sonia Greenfield’s American Parable achieves the near impossible, giving voice and vision to our current politics, offering one roadmap for making sense of our harrowing times. With startling candor, outrage, and a lusty, full-hearted, maternal sense of calling, Greenfield refuses to be silenced or to live in fear. Migrants, refugees, out-of-work clowns, gay men lost to the plague years, missing children, drowned monuments, dead and dying animals: all populate Greenfield’s ghostly, apocalyptic landscape. But they are amplified by Greenfield’s audacious love, imaginative wit, and determined singing: “when music flares up and takes a hold of you,” Greenfield writes, “you have to dance as if / the very act of living depends on it.”
—DAVID J. DANIELS