Elisa Gonzalez
2023 |

Elisa Gonzalez's thrilling debut makes one "feel as if poems have never before been written" (Louise Glück). Night Trains, the debut collection of poetry by Elisa Gonzalez, dramatizes the mind in motion as it grapples with something more than an event: she writes of a whole life, to transcendent effect. By the end, we feel we have been witness to a poet remaking herself by writing. Gonzalez’s poetry depicts the fullness of living. There are the small moments: “white wine greening in a glass,” trumpet blossoms “panicking across the garden.” Some poems adopt the oracular quality of a parable but refuse a clear moral. The poet moves through elegy, romantic and sexual encounters, family history, and place—Cyprus, Puerto Rico, Poland, Ohio—all constellated in “a chaos of faraway.” The collection is held together less by answers than by a persistent question: How does one reconcile a hatred for the world’s pain with a love for that same world, which is indivisible from its worst aspects? “Since I do love the world,” the poet says, she keeps writing. Gonzalez’s poems draw us nearer to our own aliveness, its fragility and sustaining questions. The young poet’s volcanic energy emerges from such great depth that when it breaks to the surface, it breaks blazing.

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