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Reviewed by Bernadette Acocella for Readers' Favorite
Orlando Ferrand's collection "Citywalker" is full of poems about his Cuban heritage, religion, the search for identity and the loneliness he encounters in New York City. The city is almost a character in this book, a backdrop for all the important encounters that stir up so much emotion for the poet. In this collection the reader watches the poet go through a spectrum of emotions while dealing with his family, his lovers, and himself. The theme of home and homeless occurs over and over, though early on in the collection, in the poem "Family Landscape," the poet decides that "Home does not remain the same." Throughout the book Ferrand uses religious imagery in unique ways, such as in the poem "Space" and "Do you believe in love?" The poem "Song for a romantic season in white" contains one of the most beautiful loneliness images I've encountered recently: "that colorless insect/killing us all."
In one of my favorite poems, "September 11," Ferrand writes the word "falling" down the page and writes each letter twice. This was a beautiful visual representation of the Twin Towers, and was also reminiscent of something e.e. cummings might do. The poem describes a very human reaction to the tragedy and the final stanza of the poem sums up how many New Yorkers felt that day: "Today, I am New York/ I walk downtown/ Gazing at Ground Zero/ Surrounding the incomplete horizon/ Of my own geography." I believe many people in and around New York felt this very same way that day.
There were many beautiful poems in this collection that I could understand and relate to. Ferrand is clearly a poet unafraid to share his journey around New York and toward himself with readers, and the result is often beautiful. Overall this book was very moving and a pleasure to read. At times some of the imagery was a bit too opaque for me, but the emotion behind even Ferrand's most nebulous lines was clear. Finally, as someone who owns and reads many poetry books, I do feel that the book would benefit from a table of contents, so that readers could find their way to favorite poems more easily.