To Love an Island
Author: Ana Portnoy Brimmer
Publisher: YesYes Books (2021)
Ana Portnoy Brimmer's debut, To Love an Island, offers the stark recognition that disaster is political and colonialism the most violent of storms. Beginning with the aftermath of Hurricane María and spanning the summer insurrection of 2019 and subsequent earthquakes in Puerto Rico, To Love An Island is an exploration of collective trauma, an outpour of amassed grief, a desire for unleashed mourning, a fuck-you to resilience, a brandishing of resistance. Of brazen decolonial conviction-it summons tempests, departures, strawberries, cacerolas, mangroves, guillotines, all the complexities of loving a place under imperial duress.
"If you were unsure about the poet's role in the world, look no further than Ana Portnoy Brimmer's To Love an Island. This book reads like a lyrical diatribe of resistance, passion, oceans, metaphor, and the power of hurricanes; it is stunningly insightful on how to practice solidarity, create revolution, embrace love, and exercise our humanity. Portnoy Brimmer is the archipelago's quintessential warrior poet: decolonized, fearless, speaking truth to oppression, and making room for the heart to come out of its shadow and sing."
"Ana Portnoy Brimmer’s poetry reckons with and does the careful work of what Anjelamaría Dávila called holding our 'solitudes in shared company.' To Love an Island moves through the collective trauma that follows devastation, the intimacy of shared grief in the face of settler colonialism and displacement, and finally ends in a burst of protest. Portnoy’s voice is rich, meticulous, and backed by care networks. It translates the immediacy of loss into the urgent need for change, and in doing so opens a window to a different future for Puerto Rico."
–Raquel Salas Rivera
"Bodies harpoon themselves into the waves, an insatiable island lies on a blotch of sea, and a shock of bougainvillea blossoms from a woman’s ribs. Ana Portnoy Brimmer’s To Love an Island is a vibrant debut full of melancholy and magic, rage and wonder, and a quaking irrepressible fire. Throughout it all, Portnoy Brimmer documents the interior realities of the Puerto Rican experience through the tragedies of disaster and colonialism but always with the abiding knowledge that someday it all goes back to water."
"Here, then, is inflorescence. Not merely in the act of a poet’s debut collection blooming into being, but in the variegated creep, growth and flourish of a radically committed body of work. Wound into the vines and roots of Ana Portnoy Brimmer’s To Love an Island is this remarkable witness: a lyrical fidelity to the rhythms and languages of Puerto Rico that holds itself open, too, to the sea blast of violent natural predation, the calamity of the hurricane, the garrote of selective exotification at the bloodied hands of the United States of America. Press your ear to these poems. Hear their history, see what the poet conjures from the battlements of gasoline, matches, guttering light bulbs, machetes, murders, and the wings of hummingbirds. O Caribbean, your new poems are here, and they have so much to say. Escucha bien."
–Shivanee N. Ramlochan