The Portable Famine
by Rane Arroyo
$13.95 paper, 64 pages
ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist in Poetry
USABookNews.com Best Books of
2006 Finalist in Poetry
Proudly Puerto Rican and gay, well-traveled in
the U.S. and Europe, and devoted to the modernist projects begun by Wallace
Stevens and Hart Crane, Arroyo (Home Movies of Narcissus, etc.) makes
all those identities and commitments evident in his compact, intelligent and
sometimes sexy seventh book.
Rane Arroyo's elegies and celebrations shine with details as revelations, the moments when "our bodies are the books / spilling alphabets, without fear." Encompassing high, low, and middle cultures and dictions, juxtaposing Jesus and JFK, Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico and Palm Springs, sex clubs and San Juan sailors and sanctity, Toledo and Texas, Enrique Iglesias and the war in Iraq, Arroyo's poems explore our various Americas, imagined and otherwise, in language by turns playful and profound, and in images both surprising and apt.
Reginald Shepherd, author of Otherhood, editor of Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries
Rane Arroyo's The Portable Famine hungers for home—in both the physical and imagined worlds: "My body wants / to be someone else's history." A pledge of allegiance to Arenas, Neruda, Auden, Blake, Ritsos, Pasolini--to "ambassadors from a country / that doesn't exist"--these poems re-envision the meaning of "port" for a sailor, draw a blueprint for a new Statue of Liberty: "I'm the shore / of their shore leaves."
Angie Estes, author of Chez Nous and Voice-Over
Rane Arroyo's The Portable Famine continues the circulating queer sailor-merman odyssey begun in his earlier works. This volume represents his most powerful articulation to date of that odyssey. This displaced Midwest-based poet of Puerto Rican heritage turns consciousness into a "glass skull" that reflects as "transparent shadows" the historic and contemporary marks of war and empire, colonialism, neocolonialism, exile, diaspora, and globalization.—
María DeGuzmán, author of Spain's Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire
Erotic, irreverent, mournful, political, Arroyo's lyrics and narratives surprise, often by juxtaposing literary erudition’s and popular culture in the same stanza. Read his arguments, direct addresses, dream poems, elegies, family narrative, and love poems to experience an incisive, original mind exploring “the square roots of restlessness.”
Robin Becker, Judge, John Ciardi Prize for Poetry
Rane Arroyo was born in Chicago and began his writing career as a performance artist. He is also a playwright and fiction writer. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. His awards include the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, the Stonewall Books National Chapbook Prize, The Sonora Review Chapbook Award, the George Houston Bass Award for Drama, and the Hart Crane Memorial Award. He is professor of English at the University of Toledo, where he directs the creative writing program. The Portable Famine is his seventh book.