Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities
The "lyric essays" in this book, part memoir and part travelogue, are deep investigations into the coming-of-age process. Through experiences in different places and cultures, the speaker in these prose poems comes to know his thoughts through how he sees his location and learns about how to think through his cultural identity through different experiences of rootlessness and rootedness. The details of being itinerant and of searching, the comfort of having found places to be fill the feelings out. The speaker sees his identity as Muslim and gay through fascinating travels, and we see the complexities of these words. The long pieces in the book are composed of small prose paragraphs, which often shift from relaying fact to feeling to realization to fact again. Thoughts recur and gain meaning in new contexts. In the end, the reader comes to know the speaker well and is grateful to have traveled with him.
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.