[04/05/2022] antes que isla es volcán / before island is volcano by Raquel Salas Rivera
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher Marketing: From the National Book Award-nominated, Lambda Award-winning poet: a powerful, inventive new collection that looks to the future of Puerto Rico with love, rage, beauty, and hope
Raquel Salas Rivera’s star has been rising in the poetry world for years, and this, his sixth book, promises to cement his status as one of the most important poets working today. In sharp, crystalline verses, presented in both Spanish and English, antes que isla looks to the decolonial future of Puerto Rico and is thus composed of questions—most pressingly the question of its independence or statehood. Structure is one of Salas Rivera’s most powerful tools, and he unfurls series after series of poems that build in intensity: one that casts Puerto Rico as the island of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, another that imagines a multiverse of possibilities for Puerto Rico’s fate, a third in which the poet demands his right to a future and its immediate distribution. These verses are rigorous and sophisticated, engaging with literary and political theory, yet also charismatic and quotable (“won’t you be sorry? / won’t you wish you had a boss? / won’t you get restless / with all that freedom?”) The islands of Puerto Rico were once volcanos, Salas Rivera reminds us, and that explosive energy still burns within the people there.