Leslie Bumstead's Cipher/Civilian Publishers Weekly Review

from Publishers Weekly:

This disarmingly intimate account—rendered in fragmentary poetic sequences, neat couplets and prose blocks—of Bumstead's travels in northern Guatemala, El Salvador, Chiapas and the Ivory Coast is an expansive and surprising experimental debut, in terms of its far-ranging geography as well as its stylistic diversity. Travelogues, letters ("This morning I ate an entire cantaloupe. Granted, it was a small cantaloupe") and, most strikingly, spare and cryptic lyrics display technical dexterity and a finely tuned ear: "gritty chitty / chitty bang bang in American /movies we want /war, silliness / & war." Writing as an outsider, mother and lover in places where most are afraid to go, Bumstead attests that, "stories /can't be possessed by anyone, not / really." Throughout, the political and personal overlap, each clarifying and obscuring the other: "Governments spinning on a pin. Whole criminal enterprises running countries. History is such a long book.... I am long too like a story about a musical note. When I remember things I plead with them not to forget me." (June)


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