Switchback Books

Talk Shows by Mónica de la Torre


Out of Print

Talk Shows Cover

Praise for Mónica de la Torre from Lee Ann Brown

De la Torre's poetry deconstructs sets of beliefs about what it means to be a multi-dimensional subject and turns markers of gender and race on their so-called ears. Identity and gender politics are folded neatly into smart disses and observations on the specifics of cultural play and gaff, making this a book to be reckoned with.

From Mary Jo Bang

No one I know writes like Monica de la Torre. In her poems, we encounter odd characters who meet in David Lynch-like accidental fashion. Small bizarre incidents coalesce into a sign of our own mirrored, uncertain world. While all the while, the very camera which would explicate the internal state of the subject has no film in it. The speaker in her poem "The Script" warns someone, "You thought this would be / a dance lesson." Reading these poems is decidedly not like the dance lesson where each toe and tap is programmed for a dedicated performance. Rather than relying on false certainties and pat recollections, de la Torre offers up a fine-tuned sense of the ridiculous, a world of tomfool capers with a hint of the macabre. In "The Script" she goes, within lines, from the confrontationally direct—"To pretend there's meaning when all that comes out is a 'My dog loves me and he's no showboat.'"—to a concise and cagey comment on language's angular trajectory from sound to meaning—"To leap from canopy to can openers to can open her."

From Publisher's Weekly

Accomplished translator de la Torre (Reversible Monuments) draws on frame breaking, self-questioning contemporary art and on her Mexican background in this quirky first collection of her own poems in English. Prose and verse poems assemble memorable, quotable fragments, odd details and estranged claims about a partially obscured self: the opening piece hopes "To rip kites so they may stay on the ground.// To forget jokes and misunderstand common sense." Sometimes cerebral, even jokey in her uses of found texts, sometimes neosurrealist in her fluid shifts of scene and referent, de la Torre's whimsies and passions make her clearly hip, yet hard to place: "Thirst is not fear, thirst is not green, but has wings,/ like dragons, or airplanes." Dialogues feature men and women who talk straight past one another; lyrical series decry "over-protective toddlers," "narcissistic dorks," and "myopic brutes," and a series of short poems (scattered through a longer poem, "Texas") comprise fantasias on single letters: "Slowly soften stiff surfaces, study severity." The very quotable prose poem "On Translation" stands out for its insight, not just into how de la Torre recreates Spanish-language poems in English, but into how she composes English verse of her own: "Not to search for meaning, but to reenact a gesture, an intent." (Feb.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review Links

  • From Joyelle McSweeney's review at Latino Poetry Review, March 2008

    "Reading Talk Shows, one feels the trace not so much of a writing hand as that of a verbose and erudite selector, accessing languages, etymologies, dictions, and lingos and putting her omni-language through Oulipian machines to create syntactically-charged, queer-toned texts."

  • From Doug Korb's review at Barrelhouse Magazine, August 2007

    "Though versatile conveniently hints at the word “verse,” De La Torre’s poems require a more flowing term. Cornucopia, perhaps? Yes. Cornucopia. Talk Shows, De La Torre’s first book of poetry - to be written in English - is a cornucopia® of experimental forms."