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English as a Second Language and Other Poems (Paperback)
Warm tenderness and fiery critique sit side-by-side in Bolina's English as A Second Language, a collection that skewers, laments, and celebrates America with intelligence, humility, and a disarming sense of humor.
In Jaswinder Bolina's English as A Second Language and Other Poems, we are asked to imagine the tender and harsh realities of this world within a single breath-- a Steiff monkey resting next to a child in a crib and the tired hands of "a thousand /women in Sidi Bouzid" assembling the stuffed animal. Coated in an armor of wit and humor and steeped in the idiosyncrasies of language, English as a Second Language pits sentimentality against cynicism and the personal against the national. What remains is the kaleidoscopic image of the modern American condition.
From elegy to persona, wide-ranging poems tell the story of a child of immigrants becoming a parent against the tumultuous backdrop of our politics and culture. Where the collection asks, "What chance do any of us have?," the poet finds hope, possibility. Bolina's musical poems zip across time, challenging the fixity of the book. Clues offer the possibility of an alternate reading, where backwards, a new emotional arc appears--dreamlike, the nostalgic origin story of a sleep-deprived parent tracing a path through language and history. Forwards, backwards, English as a Second Language skewers, laments, and celebrates America with intelligence and humility.
About the Author
Jaswinder Bolina's previous books include his debut essay collection Of Color (McSweeney's 2020) and three full-length poetry collections, The 44th of July (Omnidawn 2019), Phantom Camera (New Issues Press 2013)--winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry--and Carrier Wave (CLP 2007)--winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry. He is also author of the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (Floating Wolf Quarterly 2014). His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from journals and magazines including American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares, among others. His essays have been featured at The Washington Post, Paris Review, Shenandoah, The Believer, Poetry Foundation dot org, and others. He teaches on the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Miami.