In her striking second collection, Natalie Scenters-Zapico sets her unflinching gaze once again on the borders of things. Lima :: Limón illuminates both the sweet and the sour of the immigrant experience, of life as a woman in the U.S. and Mexico, and of the politics of the present day. Drawing inspiration from the music of her childhood, her lyrical poems focus on the often-tested resilience of women. Scenters-Zapico writes heartbreakingly about domestic violence and its toxic duality of macho versus hembra, of masculinity versus femininity, and throws into harsh relief the all-too-normalized pain that women endure. Her sharp verse and intense anecdotes brand her poems into the reader; images like the Virgin Mary crying glass tears and a border fence that leaves never-healing scars intertwine as she stares down femicide and gang violence alike. Unflinching, Scenters-Zapico highlights the hardships and stigma immigrants face on both sides of the border, her desire to create change shining through in every line. Lima :: Limón is grounding and urgent, a collection that speaks out against violence and works toward healing.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
In an exploration of womanhood, and the ugliness that exists within that concept, Natalie Scenters-Zapico delivers a collection that is at once defiant and real. The sophomore poet explores not just womanhood, but the binary in which girls and women reside in, never allowed to live in the area between girlhood and womanhood.
The author’s usage of nursery rhymes brings back memories of childhood games and the notion of innocence, defying the expectation that only men are allowed introspection into their childhoods; only they are allowed to rely on their immaturity to go through life. Scenters-Zapico points out there is no space for a girl to experience innocence, what with how we’re continuously sexualized from the moment we’re born until after death. All of our innocence is squeezed out of us like citrus, like limes and lemons, in order to quench a man’s thirst. Women, in this collection, are wrung out and laid out to dry in this machista world.
Scenters-Zapico’s words force you to look at gendered violence in the same way immigrant women, particularly poor, undocumented Latinas, are subjected to various forms of it. There is gendered violence around us from the moment we’re born, and we’re gaslit with the notion that men do violence as a way to show their women, or hembras, their love. We’re brought up a violent manipulation of the concept love, and this collection is full of examples of it.
This book is more a gallery of la indignación that follows heartbreak, because how dare anyone take the feelings and trust that you’ve freely given them and consequently put you through hell. It’s la indignación in the face of the fetishization of pain and trauma, be they personal or generational. And it’s indignación done with respect toward the subjects without objectifying them. It doesn’t glorify but humanize, all while tackling subjects like miscarriage, domestic violence, and sexual assault. It’s not written for the white gaze just as it isn’t for the male gaze.
Lima :: Limón is a book I’ll return to and do close readings of because there’s so much meaning put into the words that you can’t read it in a superficial way. Scenters-Zapico’s words burrow themselves into your soul and you can’t help but sit with them uncomfortably until you make yourself feel comfortable. Let Natalie Scenters-Zapico enter the poetry canon forever.
TWs: graphic depiction of domestic abuse (mostly throughout the Macho :: Hembra sections), sexual assault, miscarriage, pedophilia, gendered violence, racism, white supremacist quotes (there are direct quotes said by Trump in “Notes on My Present: A Contrapuntal”), seizure, blood, wounds, femicide
An eARC was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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