Cruel Futures (Paperback)

City Lights Spotlight No. 17

By Carmen Gimenez Smith

City Lights Books, 9780872867581, 88pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2018

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Cruel Futures 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.

Praise for Cruel Futures

"Gim nez Smith seeks release from the pressures of societal expectations in this collection of brief yet powerful poems. ... Gim nez Smith's crisp lyrics and imagery highlight ever-present threats to female personhood and autonomy."--Publishers Weekly

"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."--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, Gim nez 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.'"--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 Gim nez Smith's lyric attention: full of grit, sharp and knowing."--Hoa Nguyen