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ISBN: 978-1-62557-974-4
Categories Poetry

Human Interest

Publication Date: April 2017


Rodeo Good Stuff

I’m following a truck with a gun rack
and the bumper sticker reads, Take the migrant
out of immigrant, and I think
I’m an immigrant. I think
of the time José forgot Shangxin’s name
and called him foreigner,
and I said, I’m a foreigner
then laughed on the inside, but José
laughed out loud bahaha
because he thought
I was in on his joke. Once,
a young woman on a bus
shot up the aisle
to get a better look at my face
before asking, What ethnicity are you?
But before I told her, I said
on the inside, I’m American.
I run red lights, tail old ladies,
honk at texters while texting.
I have four American flags on the roof of my car.
How many do you have?


In HUMAN INTEREST, Valerie Bandura hurls us through a landscape of birds falling from the sky, game shows and Kardashians. She shows us “a parched landscape / of strip malls, asphalt, and extended cab pickups / with wrap around decals.” Here is a place where “Nobody’s crazy. / And everyone is.” With a searing eye toward contemporary culture, Finn gives us a glimpse of America at its strangest. This is a wild and harrowing book for a wild and harrowing time.

–Matthew Olzmann

Bandura’s poem make me cry. They reach into my pithy little heart and rip it out of my chest. She writes about Black Sabbath and guns and children and bad fathers and nutty sisters and Facebook and beautiful husbands and none of the language wants to pretend. She’s saying, “Come here. Come closer. I want to whisper something in your ear.” But, it’s the ear of the world, of humanity.

–Matthew Lippman

About the Author

Valerie Bandura

Born in the former Soviet Union, Valerie Bandura's first book, Freak Show, was a 2014 Patterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, ZYZZYVA, Alaska Quarterly Review, Crazyhorse, Mid-Atlantic Review, Third Coast, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, Beloit Poetry Review, Best New Poets, and many others. She was the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

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