Souvenirs of a Shrunken World
Kore Press First Book Award Winner 2008
By Holly Iglesias
(Kore Press, Paperback, 9781888553260, 104pp.)
Publication Date: April 2009
Categories: American - General
Contemporary and vertiginously terrifying, this important collection of poems about the 1904 World's Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was written when post-9/11 rhetoric about savages and barbarians was rampant. The poems are a textual analog for the snapshots taken at the fair, which took four years to build and three months to raze to the ground, thus creating a sort of "instant nostalgia." It was the largest fair ever held: a wonderland and a nightmare, full of opportunities for uplift and cheap amusement, a showcase of consumer goods and of a nation's prowess, it held the dreams and sins of (unconscious) white America. Spoken through the voices of figures as diverse as the prisoner of war Geronimo, Helen Keller, and African pygmies, this work reveals the dangers of accepting every story society is handed. Astonishingly timely in the contemporary cultural landscape, when all manner of simulacra are offered up in place of the real world and real experience, these prose poems reminds us that, though what is false ultimately fails, failure exacts its price.