A finalist for the 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize, Puneet Dutt’s is a fine collection of poems, coherently selected to straddle both a politically informed and nostalgically personal perspective.
As the post-traumatic stress disorder of the title would suggest, PTSD south beach projects organized violence, war, as a given, but then filters it through the harrowing experience of the individual.
An immediate positioning of the first person in relation to combat, the chapbook’s first poem “what do i know of war?” introduces a climate of omnipresent aggression; no one is safe; a person can innocently leave home in the morning to end up in “a blue body bag.” In a world of guns, drones, forces, troops, military, screams, fighting… the insistence on measuring extremity through the personal both counteracts the danger of desensitization and inserts a lyrical voice into the poems. In “coordinates,” a poem about separation, the distance between locations is quantified through “how far / from daughter / from mother / from herself she will be / from me.” The sad irony is, of course, that although “there is always war,” “no one ever” wants to be affected by it.
A significant formal choice, Dutt cuts out, cuts up and leaves scars throughout her writing. For example, she insinuates a political agenda, but doesn’t articulate a stance, rather expecting the reader to interpret the innuendo of blanks: “blogs read: Washington’s Uneasy Partnership With Tehran / or _______” Similarly, she syntactically disintegrates a moment of violence: “scarring the seams of our backs / ask / can we this our own sun give.” Through excision and confusion, Dutt is able to poetically convey the force of extremity.
(Klara du Plessis) Broken Pencil Magazine, Issue 74, Friday, February 17th, 2017. http://www.brokenpencil.com/news/zine-review-ptsd-south-beach
“PTSD south beach stood out of the crowd with its own singular brilliance” – Ryann Stevenson, Chapbook Series Editor (Phantom Books)
Winner of the Flash Future Fiction Contest (4th place)
“So, what’s hot today? In the mood for…strange? Give this one a try. It’s lyrical, shocking, and just a bit too close…for comfort. A 2015 Worth a Read.” – Stephen Vramey, Author of Glass Animals (Pure Slush Books)
– Sang Kim, Author (A Dream Called Laundry, Ballad of a Karaoke Cowboy, and Woody Allen Ate My Kimchi)
“It’s a very cool little poem, clearly aware of tropes and prepared to flirt with them before twisting to the zombie POV. The imploring insistence of ‘we’re not the bad guys.’ Some beautiful use of language.”
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