In Tray, A.L. Nielsen admirably succeeds in “singing the holes in history.” Both elegizing and investigating the death of Trayvon Martin in the long poem that opens this book, Nielsen’s keen observation of history (from King George to Sanford and Son) and deft sculpting of lines, elicit intellectual as well as emotional engagement with America’s continuous eruptions of racial violence. Elsewhere in the book, Nielsen layers reminiscences of a Nebraska childhood and observations about contemporary family life with cultural commentary that doesn’t tell us what to think, but instead causes us to question what we thought we already knew. This collection, influenced by a range of writers from Amiri Baraka and Jayne Cortez, to Lyn Hejinian, is one of Nielsen’s best.
– Kathy Lou Schultz
Available here: TRAY at Make Now Books