PRINT December 2018


Momtaza Mehri

Wendy Trevino’s Cruel Fiction (Commune Editions) tells the truth about life as we know and endure it, restlessly picking at the hangnails of both history and heartbreak. Trevino posits race as a “cruel fiction,” nationality as its attendant mythology. Trevino asks: How do we resist these fictions without reproducing their murderous, hierarchical logics? For Trevino, “poetry is not enough” as long as we are not enough. Trevino’s insurgent colloquialism is a sleight of hand. Cruel Fiction speaks plainly but never simply. Trevino reflects on the lies with which we arm ourselves to refute the lies used against us.

Against the near-orgasmic collective delusions of Obamamania, Trevino recounts solidarities fostered during the Occupy movement. Exhilarating sonnet sequences titled “Popular Culture & Cruel Work,” and “Brazilian Is Not a Race” interrogate the inter-sections of pop and protest. “It takes / Time, lots of people’s time, to organize / The world this way,” Trevino writes. “It takes more / Violence. Violence no one can confuse for / Anything but violence.” The coffee-colored utopian discourses of multiracialism, mestizo-ness, and mixed race studies are critiqued in a sweeping tour of the theoretical and geographical borderland(s) informing Trevino’s own life. Trevino reminds us that shit is complicated, except when it’s not. The line between those immiserated by racial capitalism and its profiteers is absolute. Cruel Fiction is a rarity, an irresistible clarion call to better understand ourselves if we are to understand what needs to be done, and to be undone.

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in the the Poetry Review, Poetry Society of America, Real Life, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. Her chapbook Sugah. Lump. Prayer was published by Akashic Books in 2017. She is the current Young People’s Poet Laureate for London.