BOOK REVIEW: An Incomplete List of Names by Michael Torres

An Incomplete List of Names: PoemsAn Incomplete List of Names: Poems by Michael Torres
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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This collection consists of autobiographical free verse poetry. About forty poems describe Torres’s youth as a Latino graffiti artist, his adolescent experiences with his friends, and his adult years as he teaches in a prison. Questions of identity are a central theme in these poems. Having numerous group identities: ethnic minority, artist, scholar, and teacher, Torres explores how these facets fit together, and how they sometimes don’t.

Much of the work is simple prose, a direct telling of events, but frequent poetic flourishes shine through. The depth of insight into the author is the strength of this collection. He reveals his worldview with plain clarity. The collection offers touches of philosophical insight. It’s sometimes angry, but more often reflective.

This book is one of the five poetic works put out under the rubric of the National Poetry Series in 2019.

I enjoyed reading this collection and found the insights it offered to be interesting and evocatively framed.

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