Patrick Romero McCafferty 'Mestizaje' (Erbacce, 2017)
"mestizaje" is a term historically used in Spanish for mixing, for miscegenation. Patrick Romero McCafferty takes this term and spins it through his debut collection of precise, edgy lyric poems, with an ear always attuned to the politics and poetics of hybridity. The poems veer through different modes and places, multiple languages, multiple continents, civilisations and moments in history:
"before we saw the line
in a haar of guitars the scramblings"
"beads of many colours
roll about the cantina
imported from china
to be worked
to be worked by who? we?"
One of the highpoints of the collection for me is “Hot poem”, which reads like it could be list of phrases with the word ‘hot’ missing or a associative web, a kind of thermometer: “nudist on the cracked molars”; “scratch fleshy thigh”. Earthy and embodied, the wit of this work is provocative and exciting.
"beyond sight a fin, an arm, a bird, a buoy
the drift unceasing swallows"
The last few nights I’ve been watching series one and two Blue Planet (with the sound down) and marveling – desperate to get myself subacqua some time soon. In the meantime though, I’ve been making do with Romero McCafferty’s diving poems, their sharp, methodical catalogue of movements and procedures that becomes more pressurized and alarming the deeper we move through the poem. Clusters of imagery that move from the drama of churches to the theatre of S&M: “my acqualung made this temple unholy”; “tailed by a squadron of rubber suits .- / every shape of tourist an S&M flagelante”.
In his influential book Hybrid Cultures, the theorist Néstor García Canclini suggests strategies for decollecting and deteritorialising, processes that involve recalibrating canonization and colonial patterns of thought i.e. remembering that “all culture is the result of a selection and a combination, constantly renewed, of its sources.” McCafferty, in this expansive collection, demonstrates the significance as a gesture of, as he puts it in Broch Walks, “stepping outside / the circle of stones”.