Cruel Futures, Spring 2018
A Latina feminist State of the Union address at the intersection of pop culture and interiority.
Cruel Futures, the fifth collection from Latinx feminista Carmen Giménez Smith, is a witchy confessional and wildly imagistic volume that examines subjects as divergent as Alzheimers, Medusa, mumblecore, and mental illness in sharp-witted, taut poems dense with song. Chronicling life on an endangered planet, in a country on the precipice of profound change compelled by a media machine that produces our realities, the book is a high-energy analysis of popular culture, as well as an exploration of the many social roles that women occupy as mother, daughter, lover, and the resulting struggle to maintain personhood—all in a late capitalist America. Like Joanne Kyger, Giménez Smith deploys humor while depicting the quotidian and its function as sacrament.
Praise for Cruel Futures
"Carmen Giménez Smith's beautiful book, Cruel Futures is one of those rare books, rare pieces of art, that manages to be extremely intimate, vulnerable and close while also doing a kind of searing cultural critique. The poems can be tender or ironic, and sometimes a blending of the two, which is not easy, but occasionally yields lines like these, from the amazing and amazingly titled poem 'Ravers Having Babies: 'So much to do so little skin / left for transformation . . .' Somehow those lines for me get at the remarkable humanity in this book, the remarkable wisdom, which is ravenous, sorrowful, and dreaming. Like, probably, you are. Like me."––Ross Gay
"In the body, through the lyric, and twitching with every sense of the word 'nerve,' this book sings a mongrel nation into and across its cruel futures. Like Neruda in his Plenos Poderes/Full Powers, Giménez Smith has all the mastery she needs to cast a cold eye on her positioning, and ours. In this way Cruel Futures is an autobiography that won't stay in its genre or premise, caring less to author a self than to follow turns of magic in words that might soothe our 'collisions with the living.' Inheritor and conduit of an Latinx artistic tradition, this primer on how to 'feed the yearning' Anzaldua wrote of leaves us broken and stronger, 'Slick with lip gloss, with legend.'"––Farid Matuk
"Declamatory anthems to no nation, these songs stride as they deal and wheel with skin and kin: history, catastrophe, the body, love. 'Upturned and defiant, all types of shade, no outskirt, / vital like a saint,' the poems in Cruel Futures shimmer with Giménez Smith's lyric attention: full of grit, sharp and knowing."––Hoa Nguyen