Little Anodynes: Poems

Little Anodynes: Poems

Little Anodynes: Poems

Little Anodynes: Poems

Synopsis

The third collection by the prize-winning Asian American poet Jon Pineda, Little Anodynes is a sequence of lyrical, personal narratives that continue Pineda's exploration of his biracial identity, the haunting loss of his sister, and the joys--and fears--of fatherhood. With its title inspired by Emily Dickinson, Little Anodynes offers its poems as "respites," as breaks in the reader's life that serve as opportunities for discovery and healing. Pineda deftly uses shortened lines and natural pauses to create momentum, which allows the poems to play out in a manner evocative of fine cinema, as if someone had left a projector running and these narratives were flickering and blending endlessly in an experience shared by the viewer, the storyteller, and the story itself.

Excerpt

Over the past ten years, Jon Pineda has been writing poems of aching grace. Intimately he draws the reader into the embrace of his language, at once quiet and tender, then suddenly surging with the arresting violence of a childhood marred by intolerance, loneliness, and regret. I use the term “embrace” because the idea persists that touch, either tender or terrible, is a means toward human understanding. Memory and the pain of loss are at the core of his poetic dilemmas, starting with Birthmark and continuing with The Translator’s Diary. in each of those earlier works, Pineda attempted to reconcile the death of his sister, the tyranny of coming-of-age, and the responsibility of fatherhood. Through it all Pineda clearly works within the most difficult of mediums—the complex and distinctly individualized space of human suffering. in his poetic endeavor to bridge the differences between us, the past collapses into moments of wisdom and understanding, consoling us through their beauty.

The poems in his latest collection, Little Anodynes, are a continuation of Jon Pineda’s generous, meditative, and immediate genius. Like the title of the book, derived from Emily Dickinson’s “Poem 536,” the poems within bring us salves for our suffering. the poems are written in breathless ribbons of prose verse, where moments from youth collapse into epiphanies fired from the synapses. in the first poem of the book, “First Concert,” the speaker describes the experience of attending his first concert, declaring:

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