Jerika Marchan’s SWOLE is both chronicle and canticle of Katrina: choral and various, silty and loamy, light-throated and dark-hued. Her multivocal rendering recalls Kamau Brathwaite’s Tempest-driven ‘video style’; like Brathwaite, she spins a shipwrecked archive of a historical catastrophe threaded with so many other submerged (yet rising) voices. A textured and haunting debut.
You can’t graph grief, hope, trauma, or what it took to survive. But you can collect them in poetry, the way Jerika Marchan does in her debut collection, SWOLE, an experimental, sprawling collage of poems drawn from her childhood experience of Hurricane Katrina. The scope of recovery from disaster is usually zoomed out, on the depersonalized plane of cities. Marchan’s eye is a roving one, taking in the whole stretch of New Orleans on an intimate level—it’s people, it’s music, it’s idiom, and it’s bloat.
—Yasmin Adele Majeed, Ploughshares