Ruben Quesada has reviewed Paraíso: Poems by Jacob Shores-Argüello for the Oxford American Magazine.


As the series editor’s preface notes, “these lines and everywhere in his poetry, he conveys a reverence for the wounded and for the pilgrimages we undertake in search of healing.” It is in this section Paraíso becomes an everyman’s journey.

In W.D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle (1959), Snodgrass established a new role for dreams in contemporary American poetry. The speaker observes the world around him saying “it must recall some old film, lit by lives you want to touch; as if [you’d] slept and must have dreamt this setting, peopled it, and wakened out of it.” Snodgrass’s projection, now famous in its Confessional powers, is a way for the poet to distance himself from the overwhelming subject of self.

In Paraíso, Shores-Argüello transforms Snodgrass’s achievement. Through the scrim of the foreign and the known, Shores-Argüello explores the state in which we are simultaneously awake and dreaming, the grief-state in which we both misplace and find ourselves. Paraíso is a masterful reopening of that ancient mythos of paradise lost and regained, just in time for the 21st century.


Read the full review at the Oxford American.