Craig Santos Perez’s 2008 collection of poetry, from Unincorporated Territory [Hacha], is nothing short of incredible. I can’t pretend to understand all of it, but I’ll be trying — that’s for sure. The collection is what most people would likely consider “experimental” given Perez’s unusual play with words on the page.
In fact, it’s precisely because of this experimentation with words that I find this collection so interesting. The structure of the collection is hard to explain (and the collection is definitely worth going out and buying, so you can see for yourself what it looks like for yourself soon enough!) but is a major part of its appeal. Perez masterfully balances personal stories, historical narratives, and political agendas to create this rich and complex body of work. The collection feels very much like a love letter to Guam and a political rallying cry for its decolonization and demilitarization.
It’s a moving collection that’s challenging and thought-provoking. I strongly recommend it!
GOOD FOR: Readers looking for a fresh perspective, anyone who likes a good challenge out of their reading, and those who would like to learn a little something and enjoy some beautiful literature in the process.
BAD FOR: Readers who want very straightforward poetry, people who are tired and want an easy read, and anyone who doesn’t want to be challenged at the moment.
GOOD WITH: Poeta et San Francisco, The People of Paper, and The Salt-Wind.