cover of book
 

West Portal
by Benjamin Gucciardi
University of Utah Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-1-64769-041-0 | Paper: 978-1-64769-040-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3607.U27W47 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Winner of the 2020 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
 
West Portal is the name of the neighborhood in San Francisco, California, where poet Benjamin Gucciardi grew up. It is also one of the names of the Pillars of Heracles—the entryway to the afterworld. Drawing on William Carlos Williams’s assertion that “the local is the only thing that is universal,” West Portal investigates the Bay Area’s urban and rural landscapes along with the memories and people that reside there. Interweaving the narrative of the death of the poet's sister with the environmental and socioeconomic realities of the current moment, the poems in West Portal illuminate the experience of loss, and the attempt to create meaning in the wake of devastation. Through poems that are prayerful, observant, elegiac, pained, dreamlike, philosophical, and compassionate, the book asks: What do we consider holy? What is virtue? What should any of us value about our relationship to place or our relationship with each other?

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