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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Not a WRITER is a collection of poetry by Roxana Preciado. Preciado writes in a free verse format; her words dash and weave across the page, reflecting her creative process and interior struggles. In her opening piece, The Trenches, the repeated refrain “She haunts me” culminates in a jarring conclusion as “I look to my left, a glimpse in the mirror/Her face/Haunting/She haunts me...Tomorrow I’ll fight again/Mission clear/I will escape her...She is the never-ending battle, inside of me.” In Graduated From a Coke Addict, Preciado explores the challenges faced as a teen coming out as a lesbian to widespread rejection, and her triumph over the grim future her detractors hoped for her. In The Anti-Female Campaign, she rejects classification by gender, asserting: “I refuse to be described by the label of ‘femininity’/I am a human being/A person/A soul/An energy with no gender to keep it in place/I cannot accurately be described by a single word/I am not ‘female’/I am so much more.” In Girl in a Box and Becoming Woman, she continues discussing gender roles and her rejection of them in favor of being a whole, a complete being in herself. Preciado’s images of love are sensual and immediate as in Bee: “I want to melt in your mouth/Mouth smooth, pink, pout/Kiss me I need you/Need you in me/In my life.”
Roxana Preciado’s collection of poetry, Not a WRITER, is searingly honest and brave. Her poems paint pictures of her life, her early years and her triumph over forces that seemed likely to overwhelm her in her youth. I was especially moved by her pieces that challenge gender roles and the societal expectations that come with them, seeing how she alternately sees herself as “a disturbed Cinderella” or maybe “just too bright.” Her poems are lean and taut, with images that flash by and yield to their successors: “I feel too much/Dream too much/It pains me much.” Not a WRITER is a remarkable autobiographical work that is lyrical, powerful and intense. It’s most highly recommended.