Ignited by the frictions of our American moment, this brilliant fourth collection by Patrick Rosal examines race in America and explores the possibilities and limitations of untapped multi-racial histories. Brooklyn Antediluvian attempts to fill a tragic absence in the current poetic landscape, addressing questions not just about the position of Filipinos in America, but of many kinds of Americans in relation to one another. Rosal holds brutality up to the light, though he doesn’t simply unreel a litany of suffering—natural calamity, state violence, personal heartbreak. Rather, the poet maps a way for the imagination to survive, honor, and love.
Brooklyn Antediluvian fuses the kinetics of Patrick Rosal’s first book—Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive— with the craft and social consciousness of his last two collections—My American Kundiman and Boneshepherds. Channeling DJ culture, family history, soul music, dance, and Galeanoesque myth-making, Brooklyn Antediluvian appeals to poetry devotees and novices alike, as well as the serious critic of Asian American culture and contemporary literature.
"In his boisterous fourth book, Rosal writes odes to notions of home, family, and the transcendent joy in music and dance, among other subjects... and as the book flows he addresses his childhood in New Jersey as well as his family and ancestors in the Philippines. Rosal’s lines bob and weave with an effortless unpredictability... an earth-shattering performance..." —Publishers Weekly
"The poet's wide-aloud love song to New York's most boisterous borough is a deftly-crafted tour-de-force, a sleek melding of lyric and unflinching light. These poems are restless and unnerving, stanzas that do difficult, necessary work." —Patricia Smith, author of Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah and four-time National Slam Champion
SMALL PRESS HIGHLIGHT, NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE
NOTABLE BOOK, ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS
In Boneshepherds, Patrick Rosal continues his confident dance through a world in which violence and beauty entwine—in which the music of Chopin gives way to a knifing, and the funk of decay and amorality cannot stifle the urge for human connection. As ever, Rosal's "sexy work finds the present haunted by the recent past, the personal [by] the political" (Publisher's Weekly). Boneshepherds shows him at his very best: vibrant, generous, and brave.
Praise for Boneshepherds:
"[In Boneshepherds,] Rosal has infused his poetry with the joy of language."—Bracha Goykadosh, Booklist
“I should warn you, every guitar has its ghosts,/ and they’ll ask you whom you love and how much,” Rosal writes, using a phrase that’s just as fitting of a statement about his powerful poetry. Indeed, this third collection benefits from the linguistic energy and sharp imagery that has made Rosal such a popular reader, but it also delivers the maturity and sensitivity of a poet who has shaped a more sophisticated view of the world and his place within it: “Lucy,// this morning I woke imagining/that minor fraud of a man// who is your father, in exile,// and shamelessly loved.” —National Book Critics Circle, Small Press Highlights 2011
Patrick Rosal's third collection of poems, themes of violence and beauty often coincide within the narrative. Rosal ends one poem in the collection, "Little Men with Fast Hands," with the simple statement "the history's deep." That history includes reflection on family, gender, nationality, and an examination of the poet's own lineage through odes, parables, and elegies, among other modes.
Though the poems of Boneshepherds are located in a world where violence and hardship persist, they are also the vehicles for displays of human connection and outreach. —Academy of American Poets
What strikes me about this collection is how skillfully the poems navigate between despair and love, between violence and music, between loss and transcendence. Such an undertaking requires skill — to reign in the terrible and the joyful. Boneshepherds then, performs a tango of the greatest magnitude. The book is a dance of conflicts — where the dancer who leads and the dancer who follows embrace closely and move in graceful syncopation. Where the sum of the two create such a beautiful movement. —Oliver de la Paz,The Lit Pub
WINNER, 2006 BOOK AWARD IN POETRY, ASSOCIATION OF ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES
WINNER, 2007 GLOBAL FILIPINO LITERARY AWARD
FINALIST, 2007 MEMBERS' CHOICE AWARD, ASIAN AMERICAN WRITERS' WORKSHOP
This pulsating collection, winner of the Global Filipino Literary Award and finalist for the Members' Choice Award at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, picks up the beat and imagery of Patrick Rosal's thrilling debut, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive. Here, though, the poet's electric narratives and portraits extend beyond the working class streets of urban New Jersey. Modeling poems on the kundiman, a song of unrequited love sung by Filipinos for their country in times of oppression, he professes his conflicted feelings for America, while celebrating and lamenting his various heritages.
Praise for My American Kundiman:
"Rosal's vividly syncretic, even sexy works find the present haunted by the recent past, the personal within the political."—Publisher's Weekly
"One of the many fabulous poems in My American Kundiman ends 'like brothers/we put the first bite in one another's mouths,' a phrase which reflects the magic and intimacy of this collection, one in which friends, strangers, lovers, and malevolents are poked and caressed with devilish charm, bitten and kissed in the same breath by blues, odes, and elegies. Every heartbreak, grief, and outrage in this book is laced with a hopefulness born not just of Patrick Rosal's tremendous gifts as a poet, but of his humanity." —Terrance Hayes
"Rosal’s love songs to those outside the conveyances of upward mobility, his ability to convey the grace of characters cast as convicts and beasts, his celebrations of the mothers and lolas and lovers who hold the world in balance all establish him as a poet of extraordinary creativity, breadth, and force. On my shelves, Rosal’s books rub shoulders with collections by Al Robles and Muriel Rukeyser -- fit company indeed for a writer who is transforming the voice and verse of America." —Theresa Tensuan, Haverford College
WINNER, 2003 MEMBERS' CHOICE AWARD, ASIAN AMERICAN WRITERS' WORKSHOP
FINALIST, 2003 LITERARY AWARD, ASIAN AMERICAN WRITERS' WORKSHOP
Marking the intersection of traditional poetic craft and the raw energy of contemporary performance-based work, Patrick Rosal's poems ring with the music of no-frills industrial towns of northern New Jersey. In poems like “You Clubhouse Boys” and “A Good Day,” Rosal does time with B-boys and condemned men (whose misdeeds as youths forever shaped their futures). These portraits alternate with heated explorations of longing—sexual and filial—in pieces such as “The Basque Nose” and “Notes for the Unwritten Biography of My Father, an Ex-Priest,” while other poems dig deep into manhood and the poet’s Filipino roots. What unifies Rosal work—beyond his breathtaking capacity for rhythm—is a compassion that permeates even the most morally ambiguous situations. Unpredictable and breathtaking as a perfect sax solo, these poems are the indelible marks made by a world that has been simultaneously kept close and left behind.
Praise for Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive:
"[A]n astonishing first collection... Urgent, rhythmic (it has the swing without which it don't mean a thing), this is a passionate and elegiac book that claims a place of its own in American poetry's present and bodes well for American poetry's future." —Thomas Lux
"Part immigrant-song, bildungsroman, family-chronicle, and love story, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive is nearly overwhelming in its beauty. Rosal, almost sorcerous in his abilities, has called up a language, a hurricane, a world, a searing meditation...This is a book from whose pages you'll emerge (in no particular order): shaken, heartbroken, annealed, made new. A virtuoso performance!" —Junot Díaz
"Patrick Rosal's poems rush headlong toward your heart, baring what they know with a merciless candor that makes their compassion all the more persuasive. rosal's bottom-line love of language offers a feast of wards to surprise and pleasure the tongue. This is a bold, keen, powerful debut." —Joan Larkin
"Rosal is a second-generation Filipino whose heritage is a rich part of his work, but he is also an all-American urban kid...[with] the boastful beat of hipp-hop...playing in the back of his head...In Rosal's world, beauty and pleasure are contagious. So is the charm of his poetry." —Time Out New York