This Is Not A Frank Ocean Cover Album by Alan Chazaro
Winner of the Spring 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition In his debut short collection, poet Alan Chazaro takes us from the moonlit Bay Bridge to dark Oakland bars to tire shops to backyards to the fireworks and dirt paths of Mexico City. Chazaro’s speakers battle to find internal truths in a world defined by external opposition. Here, we glide from Frank Ocean to 80s synthpop, from Half Moon Bay to Athens, from Oscar De La Hoya to Wolverine. This is a collection about navigating multiple worlds, about traversing from boyhood into manhood. In poems that crackle with “scorpions in the dark” and “Lauryn Hill’s voodoo” and “fat / Adidas laces and barbershop fades$$ Chazaro explores what it means to curate a sense of self as a millennial first-generation California Chicanx writer. His speakers are driven by a desire to control their identity in a world where they haven’t been able to control much else-as the children of immigrants, as the occupants of ever-shifting spaces, as bodies that belong and don’t belong. Structured like a rap mixtape, each poem on the “track list” is an ode to some vibration of memory, sound, or Chazaro’s native Bay Area landscape. This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album, just as we are not ever actually ourselves-but a collection of fragments from our component influences and cultures, a reflection of the choices we make in search of a more genuine self.