Luisa A. Igloria’s Graphic Review of Karen An-hwei Lee’s ROSE IS A VERB

What is the evidence we seek for things
unseen? Whether in plenty or in lack,
whether yearning for pleasures or engulfment
in flames, we’ll give all our own nickels
to the moon: a bribe, a tribute, an

In any case, our complex love
translates into different
brightnesses. Rapture means
to be overcome, to be seized—
as in the talons of a magnificent
bird that rushes down from
a great height.

We are fixed, unfixed,
belled, anointed. If this
is a test (of faith, of
narrative, of language)
the poet responds: “Why

A void is not necessarily empty.
A body, as bridge, is not flimsy.

We have transplant of
organs and bioengineering
We have plants sustained
only by air.

“Are you in favor of war in this
Are you an engineer of war or peace?”

“Rose is a verb. I rose.”

And “read”
is a command
to open.

Author/Artist’s Note:

This graphic poetry review is a 3-D object – a repurposed box with a diagonal side cut edge.
It was a box of Fortnum and Mason (est.1707, UK) chocolate (Napolitains), which our friend Liz
had given us a while ago. She related to me that her grandpa had registered the family ration
book there in the 1940s: “The shop is extremely fancy and it’s typical of my grandpa that he
would choose to register there —My family did not have much and the staff used to keep any
extra butter or meat aside for my Nan.”

On the top inner side of the box is a gold-lettered inscription – “The shape of delicious things to
come” – which I decided to keep as is. It seems to me to go with the ideas of generosity,
abundance, and resplendence which, among other things, are celebrated in Karen An-hwei
Lee’s Rose is a Verb.

I wrote the text of my lyric review on a sheet of watercolor paper cut to size; then accordion-
folded it. I applied a watercolor wash over areas of the paper, then added loose sashiko
stitching. The outside lid is adorned with a hand-stitched rose made of dyed teabag paper.

Author Bio:

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Co-Winner, 2019 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Prize), The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (2018), 12 other books, and 4 chapbooks. Originally from Baguio City, she makes her home in Norfolk VA where she teaches in Old Dominion University’s MFA Creative Writing Program; and at The Muse Writers Center. In July 2020, she was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Academy of American Poets awarded her a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship in April 2021.

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