[Reviewed by Nicole Arocho]
Lynn Lonidier’s poetry drives you through a rollercoaster of poignant emotions that leaves you breathless and wanting more of her quirky use of bilingual vocabulary and unconventional metaphors that constantly surprise the reader. She writes poetry, but she doesn’t let poetry forge a specific structure on her work. She switches effortlessly from short, minimalistic stanzas to prose poetry. Even though Christmas Kitty in Bilingual and, Or What I did this Year read very differently from, say, Happy Doris On Her ‘69th, they are equally powerful. Her work is greatly influenced by her lesbianism and by the work she did in the Mission District in San Francisco as a teacher. Both elements are woven beautifully in the unique style she sometimes utilized, a construction of thoughts rather than complete phrases or sentences.
As a bilingual myself, I enjoyed very much Lonidier’s use of both Spanish and English to convey the multicultural space that is the Mission District she so much refers to in her poetry. With her Spanglish we get a better sense of the mix of cultures that color her San Francisco, California. Some of the words may seem random and spelled or grammatically incorrect, but each one of them is conjures a meaning, an essence, a philosophical idea that Lynn Lonidier wanted us to examine, to taste in our reading, to sense in our minds when thinking of her poem afterward.
Her prose poetry is very experimental and fresh; her stylistic choices make her pieces fun to read for the reader but they are also a challenge that Lonidier interposes to this genre and to the reader. The structure plays itself like a metaphor of the development of her own identity as a lesbian and member of the Mission District community. Overall, this book is very unique and a rare combination of wit, passion, flamboyant language and situations, unexpected comparisons and images that reveal, little by little, the realities of two communities (lesbians and the immigrants) who are brought together thanks to Lonidier’s insight and personal connection to both of them.
You can contact the reviewer, Nicole Arocho, at firstname.lastname@example.org.