by Gina Franco
University of Arizona Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-8165-2329-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3606.R375K44 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Here is Kathryn, "nearly 88, infinity next to infinity, / but infinity curled on itself, a whirlwind / that whipped about the house and was gone, / rain in its wake, a smell of dirt."

Kathryn is near the end of her life and is losing her memories: travels, husbands, a storm of keepsakes. As Gina Franco unleashes that storm and as Kathryn's flood of memories washes over us, we know at once that we are in the hands of a truly gifted poet. "The Keepsake Storm" is the culmination of a verse cycle that probes the depths of the heart—a meditation on the meaning of life in a difficult world. Drawing on a rich tradition of storytelling in Latino literature, Franco explores the transformative power of compassion as she addresses themes of cultural alienation, lost family roots, and the uncertain resiliency of the self. In writing that blends rapture, vision, and mystery, Franco calls on a multiplicity of voices and a prodigious command of forms to explore the underlying rhythms of life, finding poetry even in the imperfect transmissions of e-mail:

"I was happy to get your letter. I had a rough day.
My step-mom had a breakdown and is in a hospitol.
I don't understand all the why's of it. She has paranoia
scetsafrinia. (and I know that is spelled totally
wrong). I don't blame myself I just didn't see it coming."

By reaffirming the power of self-awareness, history, and place, Franco reaches out to all who struggle to find meaning in times of trouble or self-doubt. The Keepsake Storm is a personal journey through many lives that is nothing less than a celebration—and a reassessment—of American consciousness.