DAVID RUDOLPH Reviews
Souvenir by Aimee Suzara
(WordTech Editions, 2014)
In Souvenir, poet Aimee Suzara extends to us a memento of her experience, thus far, as an American soul. She is an extension of strong, independent Filipino lineage. Her parents eloped and fled to America’s eastern shores as had the other eight siblings from their Yankee fouled sea town. Her story is about her mother and father, their heritage, and youthful exodus and ultimate transcontinental migration to the West. This is where and when her memories and judgments begin to form -- the words reflected within this work are revelations from her constructs of these events-- interposed through the gazing eyes of Imperialist succession. We are along as she and her parents have their own turn at manifest destiny and it’s marking, sorting, and collecting that will forever enfold them as Imperialist as well. She knows that we can never look right again, we have forsaken our homes and now we are the strangers.
Suzara’s father is a successful surgeon. She has not experienced each stereotypic struggle that we might expect from immigration’s yoke. Free of addictions and blessed with a supreme education, her story digs in deeper and broader ground. Stooped low, bent, working fervently, Suzara has published a masterful act of organizational creativity.
This book attends to her message by an interwoven fashioning of poetic prose, poetry, field notes, including additional elements of photography and ethnography. Notes from the archive:
Hominid between primate and human”
The genius of the book is in this interweave of her insightful anger and angst against the European pretentions on display at the St Louis 1904 World’s Fair. She pays keen attention to the indifferent effects born of the Darwinist constructs conveniently in vogue during and following the Spanish and American colonization of her native islands. From the dust covered archives of the Missouri History Museum, Suzara uncovers the heinous folly of American presumption fully and enthusiastically exhibited. This act tips from a conquering Admiral’s hat, spilling near naked dancers (“the missing links”) like blood off her operating table, she turns out the scalpeled skin of wrong turns, wrong people, and wrong reasons.
From beyond the bamboo rail,
The women gaze and stare –
They like the wind blowing our cloths
Revealing nature’s share.
We are tugged through a fouled Philippian river, into the nuclear wasted neighborhoods of her Western youth and desert edges roused in cultural and feral death.
We passed the pile of white things,
The gaping head the green c9ouch with paling
The woken frame, innards exposed, we trudged
We are delighted by her sharp revelations of what makes a heritage -- she pays psychic homage to those states traveled and the motels overnighted in the same breath as Lewis and Clark subterfuge. The Chalet-styled house, king-sized satin comforters, papa’s guns and scotch whiskey, her iconic rock music and thick braids do not necessarily make a home. She leaves us with the feeling that she will always wonder of a life held afar forever. This book keeps us in touch with the youngest America. Pay attention, she is figuring it out (she’s as stubborn as a rooted lychee tree).
David Rudolph is.