Nightboat Books, 2021
A sequence of poems from the pastoral tradition. Purchase Here.
“The poems in Irredenta seem to float effortlessly, as if made of wind, the wind the effect of a desire to simultaneously name and unname, and so rescue language from the toxic traces of our difficult moment: ‘the helicopter’s way / flowers the flag / redeems the reprobate / who names discover / this America.’ Oscar Oswald knows that the desert is dry; but he knows also that the ghosts that roam above it are free, ‘a pond blown over be blown back to rest.’ A haunted and haunting collection.”
– Ann Lauterbach
“Irredenta adopts the dictions and discourses that thread through America’s complex multivalent history for a sequence of atmospheric poems that critique idyll and manifest destiny and that undo American mythologies. Oscar Oswald is our walking citizen whose ‘fat soul’ travels before and after time. His travels transcribe the winding path of our common song.”
– Carmen Giménez Smith
“In Oscar Oswald’s luminous Irredenta, America has found its post-modern Virgil. The poems in this debut collection acknowledge the fact of a people’s undeniable connection to the beloved earth, that is, as always, irrevocably up for grabs by the reigning power de jour. As fierce and antagonistic as Thoreau, Oswald asks ‘what is people but a sequel,’ solidifying his dispossession in a ‘song with those who are not made their destinies.’ And yet, miraculously somehow, our shepherd, working with the materials at hand, finds our real locale in his willingness to ‘tune up my pipe with grease and gasoline.’ Irredenta constructs a timely eco-poetics that ups the ante on the ethics and meaning of place in the 21st century. A must read!”
– Claudia Keelan