“Book Review: Poems in Corona”
Reviewed by Madeline Barbush
A razor-sharp collection of satirical poetry that exposes the U.S.’s dual virus
In Poems in Corona, Jay Green explores the issues that have arisen as a result of and during the coronavirus. He is brutally honest about his views on the way our country has handled the virus and its outbreak: “Corona bares no eye. No color in its attack. Media insinuates she maneuvers like a racist. Why favor skin bathed in black?”
Green does not mince his words on the subject of longstanding racism in America: “And if you ask the people why they’re singing, they’ll say another black voice was suppressed. This time by the guillotine knee of a supposed guardian.” The poet cuts sharply to the core with powerful discussions of how it feels to protest police brutality during a deadly pandemic.
This collection reads like a necessary release of frustration and suffering. In it, Green laments the politicization of the mask; he admits his disdain of the pesty piece of cloth and scoffs at it becoming a part of our every day; he ridicules those who have blindly followed our leadership; he exposes the greed of our capitalist culture and the racism that infects our country.
We are a country that likes to point figures and place the blame on the outsider, but Jay Green reminds us to look inward at the sins that have established our present. He doesn’t let us off the hook for anything, and he confronts the truth of what we need right now: to take accountability for the damage that has been done and do something about it.
Poems in Corona encapsulates a nation tortured by medical and racial virus. Green does not beautify any aspect of our reality nor does he pretend to believe that life without virus will come anytime soon. He reserves his optimism to speak about his hopes for the future. He dreams of speaking to a generation that doesn’t have to take to the street to protest for Black lives. His fantasies are of a prosperous nation, a United States.
Poems in Corona is not for the faint of heart. There is literature out there that will give you an escape from our reality—fluffy stories that will lighten your load. This is not one of those works. Green’s poems will take you to the heart of our crisis. Poems like “Sakura’s Sestina,” “Fallout” and “Cities Sing” broke my heart only to put it back together again. There’s a vulnerability you will want to have while reading Green’s poems, but if you are willing to take yourself there, maybe you can strive with him toward a future America that thrives in prosperity and equality.
Print Length: 37 pages
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