The Outer Bands is a first collection of poems from Andrés Montoya prize-winner Gabriel Gomez. The book is an expansive examination of language and landscape, voice and memory, where the balance between experimentation and tradition coexist. The poems realize a reconciliation between the writer’s voice and the voice of witness, wonder, and tragedy; a dialogue between two worlds that employ an equally paradoxical imagery of the American Southwest and the marshes of Southern Louisiana. The book concludes with its namesake poem, “The Outer Bands,” a twenty-eight-day chronicle of the days between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which together decimated the Gulf Coast region in 2005. The sequence poem, a pastiche and re-contextualization of images, news blurbs, and political rhetoric, travels and responds in a spare subjectivity to the storm. Gabriel Gomez completed it during a two-month emergency residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute after his home in New Orleans was destroyed.
“Gabriel Gomez is an accomplished poet, one who honors the resonance of language as well as reverberations of form. And, like a retablo, each poem shimmers with reverence, if not for saints and Biblical figures, but for the beauty and poignancy of complex, contemporary life.” —Valerie Martinez, from the introduction
“Gomez writes eloquently of distance, longing, need, and survival in a series of poems that culminate with a section about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.” — El Paso Times
“The title poem of this collection is a 28-day record of days between Katrina and Rita, which draws from the news headlines, the language tossed around by politicians, and realistic images of the storm to provide a portrait of just how dislocating, how jarring, how out of time that period was.” — The Times-Picayune
“Gabriel Gomez . . . inventively makes audible what is ultimately ‘inaudible for poetry’ from the transformations of glaciers to the vows of retablos, from the power of song to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.” — Latino Poetry Review