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A sequence of poems that interrogates American civics and citizenry from its foundation in the pastoral tradition.
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In Irredenta, Oscar Oswald raises the prospect of pastoral opposition to state power, elaborating and investigating the genre through ethical and spiritual inquiry. As a citizen is a stranger to itself, so too does Oswald’s pastoral speaker define the tensions between identity and nationality inherent in a civic body as they are traversed across the American political geography: land, water, and country, from the Mojave to Wisconsin.
“The poems in Irredenta seem to float effortlessly, as if made of wind, the wind the effect of a desire to simultaneously name and unname, and so rescue language from the toxic traces of our difficult moment: ‘the helicopter’s way/flowers the flag/redeems the reprobate/who names discover/this America.’ Oscar Oswald knows that the desert is dry; but he knows also that the ghosts that roam above it are free, ‘a pond blown over be blown back to rest.’ A haunted and haunting collection.”
Oscar Oswald’s exciting debut Irredenta both pushes back against and claims new space within the pastoral tradition in American writing… Irredenta is an astute and astonishing new entry into contemporary ecopoetics.