The Real Horse
Arab American National Museum
The Real Horse by Farid Matuk
A sustained address to the poet’s daughter, The Real Horse takes its cues from the child’s unapologetic disregard for things as they are, calling forth the adult world as accountable for its flaws and as an occasion for imagining otherwise.
Offering a handbook on the possibilities of the verse line, this collection is precise in its figuring, searching in its intellect, and alert in its music. Here lyric energy levitates into constellations that hold their analytic composure, inviting readers into a shared practice of thinking and feeling that interrogates the confounding intersections of gender, race, class, and national status not as abstract concepts but as foundational intimacies.
Matuk’s interrogations of form cut a path through the tangle of a daughter’s position as a natural-born female citizen of the “First World” and of the poet’s position as a once-undocumented immigrant of mixed ethnicity whose paternity is unavoidably implicated in patriarchy. Rejecting nostalgia for homelands, notions of embodied value (self-made or otherwise), and specious ideas of freedom, these luminously multifaceted poem sequences cast their lot with the lyric voice, trusting it to hold a space where we might follow the child’s ongoing revolution against the patrimony of selfhood and citizenship.