Kirk Wilson's SONGBOX, winner of the 2020 Trio Award, is the testament of a mature poet confronting the dissolution of American assumptions, the precarious nature of identity, and the alchemical strangeness of experience. In the words of the Swedish poet Malina Mörling, the "profound and affecting poems" in SONGBOX "speak to us in an effortless and immediate syntax." In charged language, the poems dance with time and commune with love, memory, family, and loss. They bear acute witness to the pandemic, the long overdue reckoning with racial injustice, the threat of nascent fascism, the climate crisis. As the beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye has written, "these are poems to return to again and again."
A poem can glisten like a fresh wound. Usha Akella pays tribute to her own life and to that of other women. Writing from her Niyogi Brahmin sensibility with which she grew up, her poems are the medium for the unsilenced voice both of her own story and those of women across various cultures. She calls for a united womanhood in her poems dedicated to women violated through rape, caste, FGM, foot binding, mysticism, politics, terrorism, and other patriarchal abuses to the women who have triumphed against subjugation building new ways of being. Rage has not caste, needs no algorithm, light a pyre with it of chopped thumbs and scripted dreams.