Curb maps our post-9/11 political landscape by locating the wounds of domestic terrorism at unacknowledged sites of racial and religious conflict across cities and suburbs of the United States.
Divya Victor documents how immigrants and Americans navigate the liminal sites of everyday living: lawns, curbs, and sidewalks undergirded by violence but also constantly repaved with new possibilities of belonging. Curb witnesses immigrant survival, familial bonds, and interracial parenting in the context of nationalist and white-supremacist violence against South Asians. The book refutes the binary of the model minority and the monstrous, dark “other” by reclaiming the throbbing, many-tongued, vermillion heart of kith.
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR CURB
Even as she memorializes victims of nationalist and imperialist violence, Victor draws us into scenes of domesticity and intimacy among Indian American and Indian families. She is in this way amazingly deft at revealing the overlap of the personal and political, as when she describes “the passport photograph/ you once stapled at the edge of a petition/ to anchor her womb/ to your migrating heart.” In poems of brilliant aesthetic diversity and haunting imagery (“Stop bath & rinse,/ then hang up this feeling/ by its arms”), Curb illuminates and challenges the boundaries that divide and discipline us. —
— EVIE SHOCKLEY, for NPR, reviews CURB as part of NPR’s “picks for some of the most exciting and imperative poetry collections of the next twelve months”
Divya Victor’s Curb is extraordinary: it is a sobering poetic look at how white supremacy “curbs” the brown civilian who can slip between Muslim and Black, between terrorist and illegal. If they’re not targeted for what they are, they’re mistaken for what they’re not—with sometimes fatal consequences. Victor explores the murders of South Asians in America with piercing acumen, re-arranging historical documents into wholly original compositional strategies that draws me in but also pushes me back. I can never know what happened, only perceive the disquieting absence of lives annihilated by structural violence. Layered, rich, and epic, Curb is an incredible collection that must be read and re-read.
—CATHY PARK HONG, author of MINOR FEELINGS: An Asian American Reckoning
Curb maps the exact locations of post-9/11 white-supremacist violence against South Asians with exact markings: dots, lines, squares, DMS coordinates, soundscapes, diacritical marks, Latin, Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam, and “No English.” Divya Victor’s innovative lyrical exactness lays bare the US nationalist project and movingly documents and reenacts exact moments of diasporic bodies lived out in place and history. Curb’s existential coordinates cast a powerful spell against empire’s geography.
—DON MEE CHOI, author of HARDLY WAR and DMZ COLONY (Wave Books)
Fiercely lyric in tone, Curb simultaneously limns a documentary poetics of loss—of land, language, family, connections, dignity and life even. Making the reader her accomplice and co-creator, Victor enters language and languaging itself, including utterance, sound and translation, to wrest from the experience of displacement, racism and wrongful death a lambent work suffused with a poetics of relation and love, which resists systems designed to humiliate and degrade—a work of emboldened, embodied poetics that does the necessary labor that presages something new.
Read Curb for:
- its fierce lyricism
- its documentary poetics of loss
- its tender urgency and its urgent tenderness
- how it ferries language across crevasses created by the tongue
- how it bears witness to witnessing
- how (un)mothered tongues live under curb
- how love petitions the heart even as it breaks under the wait in time
- how story ‘stories’ and stores memory
- how it takes sides
- how it shines a light in dark times
—M. NOURBESE PHILIP, author of Zong!
Divya Victor’s fine-spun Curb carefully tracks, documents, and descriptively elucidates the veritable language of testimony to make visible the invisibility of South Asians, particularly those targeted and erased by domestic terrorism and violence in the United States. These poems speak with potency as they innovate methods of thinking about what a speaker can witness and who they can address. These poems buck the traditional lyric to go to the matters of the “she in me,” to what is “swollen and pressing,” to the “birth certificates” and the “death certificates,” and to the lives that are “settled out of suitcases.” She writes deepening sequences that evoke the “locution/location” at the heart of migration. Curb is as extraordinary as her previous book, Kith, and continues to build on its perceptual engagements. This collection is an outstanding document that locates us in the coordinates of an abode where we can discuss who gets counted, heard, or “read” with the compassion and love required to belong in community.
—PRAGEETA SHARMA, author of Grief Sequence
In startling, inventive poetry, Divya Victor’s book embodies the many meanings of the word “curb”– how it arrives as a bit, a check, a swelling, an imperative towards restraint, and as a community’s plea to curb white supremacist violence. Curb edges a concrete path of South Asian immigrant memory and witness and grief and fear and anger and beauty and communion and resistance. Divya Victor commemorates the slain, remembers their names, and marks coordinates of displacement and connection. Grounded in community devotion, Curb is a moving memorial and a deeply thoughtful, passionate, and wrenching book.
— GABRIELLE CIVIL, author of Swallow the Fish: A Memoir in Performance Art