For over three decades, dan raphael’s been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid, his 19th book, came out in June of 2016. Current poems appear in Across the Margin, Caliban, In Between Hangovers, Phantom Drift and Great Weather for Media. As well as being the Prose Editor for Unlikely Stories, he hosts the monthly Fo Po Poetry series in Portland, and once a week writes news stories and writes and records a news poem for KBOO community radio.
While the territory this book takes us through is dark, a lot can be learned, including about contemporary groups like the KKK and the NRA, as well as the militarization of the culture (from pioneers to commandos) and the repression of people of color and the poor. Dunbar-Ortiz gives this difficult, at times abhorrent history a crisp and light touch, including personal anecdotes and well-chosen cultural references.
To recreate being a certain age in a certain era takes great skill: getting your facts straight, your feelings appropriate to the time, maybe going back to your own memory but still keeping the perspectives of the characters, which are not necessarily your own.
we’re cycling & recycling as fast as we can but can’t get there in time
for the job, the damaged free stuff, the barbed assignation,
and usually need to replace something by the time we get home—
a tire, a lens, an ankle.
I paid for a genetic test and they sent my money back,
saying my sample was contaminated, parts of my dna unidentifiable,
from atlantis maybe, or one of those countries that continues in mind and myth
though hasn’t been on the maps for centuries.