[10/26/2021] Basic Needs by Vanessa Jimenez Gabb
Rescue Press, paperback
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Publisher Marketing: “I will receive money once,” begins Vanessa Jimenez Gabb’s Basic Needs, a candid, sensitive inquiry into “love in the time of capitalism.” Following from Gabb's debut collection, Images of Radical Politics, Basic Needs traces the alienations, catches, and contradictions of current life and work: No cogito ergo sum but “I am because I am having," and no direct actions but constant shivering consequences, “all of the little fires / freezing revolutions.” Nevertheless, Gabb asserts, “to love / has not been more difficult // than deciding to.” With formal fluctuation and complicated hope, the three movements of Basic Needs engage labor, love, and the lives we are able to create: “We have / our passions / and don’t / know how / it will end," though it "cannot exist like this forever."
Anyone who has ever wondered what a Marxist love poem might look like need look no further than Vanessa Jimenez Gabb’s Basic Needs. With its focus on living—how it is done, in a country where workers have had to die for an eight-hour work day & in a world where “love is indeed a stranger to most people,” this stunning collection of poems manages to get at what is most necessary when trying, not just to survive, but find love that might one day lead to life outside of “this system.” & that love is unabashedly anti-capitalist, which makes me especially thankful for the “wayward light / in the poems” here. —Wendy Trevino
Powerful, elegant, lush, disorienting, philosophical, honest and cutting, full of life, clarity, energy, vulnerability and beauty. These are some of the terms that come to mind when I think of Vanessa Jimenez Gabb’s vibrant new book. Here is a poetics of labor, history, brokenness, money, solidarity, ecology. Here is a book that thinks and loves deeply in order to survive the infinite collapse of the system. —Daniel Borzutzky