Review Of The Other House

The moment I read that Poet Rocio Carlos  had read the manuscript of “The Yellow House” by Chiwan Choi  I knew we are in for a superb chapbook collection and amazing poetry.

After lending a copy of  The Other House  from our library  the superb Tares Oburumu has decided to write a profound review, we hope you enjoy it.


The Spirit Of Language; A Journey Of Self-discovery In Rocio Carlos’ the other house’

Rocio Carlos, living her trademark as a teacher of the language arts, raised language to spirit level in this collection. Each line penned resonates, profoundly, with the depth she is dug in its practice as a tool for the communication between two or more bodies. Here, it’s a communication between the dead and the dead. Rocio is seated on a conversational rung, talking to her parents. The level on which the language is placed brooks no material deportment. It’s rather a spiritual journey through labyrinths of loss and the acceptance of its varied forms. Rocio has no other model to fashion after except the one provided for by the loss of her parents engraved on her memory. Memory, sometimes, is a farraginous whole. Oftentimes, it takes a lifetime to get through a brief but single line of picture it presents. Rocio has been presented with the presence of her parents but she cannot fathom where it all began. Did it begin from a house with a small home enjoyed by her parents or it started from a place as foreign to her as her mother? in / how could I know about fire/how could you have warned me/ ( and memory?)

In the farrago of her most scattered imagination, the one thing that presents itself more clearly is fire and the word ‘ foreign’, nothing less than death in a foreign country. And perhaps alone, or knowing she will be, she writes /mother, you will soon orphan me/ how could you have given me something the marauders would want/.

Possibly, this might be her call to grow wild. / I went ahead into the woods and grew wild/.

The woods perfected the labyrinths. They also gave her a sense of being at ease with the trees. It’s said that she is widely acknowledged to have zero short term memory but knows the names of trees. Her favorites are the olmo( elm) and the Aliso ( sycamore).

She grew up with the trees and shared a common, perhaps, ancestry with them. The language of the trees became her own language, having severed ties with her parents in such places, in such gruesome ways. In points of/ departure, she writes / but I will not tell you because my body/ is a language you never learned/ but your body was my first language.

This is so dark a connection between child and parents that she, in the earnestness of her brief memory, saw the impulse to live with such bizarre state of being. / In the dark/ I learned:/ there are many darknesses/.

 Rocio has a memory of, perhaps, how she lost someone or something she cherished in the lines/ my father’s father runs into the house even as the smoke wilts the cotton/ it was a girl/

What’s lost is either retained by memory or by the search for it. Rocio’s search was more spiritual than physical; knowing it happened, the loss. Using language in such a beautiful way, she entreated her readers to join her in the search for the ghosts of something/someone To begin the spiritual journey, she unraveled the route through which one can go, like light, into the night. The route is to, first, have a knowledge of the self, as she writes /this is the map of our steps/ to look in a mirror to find your way home/.

Home here, is not a building with woods, iron, and concrete, with people living in it. It is a symbol of loss. What’s loss, to her, is the home. A home of ghosts. To find the self, is to find the home. / your temper a north star- / this is how you will be found/ wild and full of the language of trees in a place of drought/ don’t go away – I long for you/ I love the longing for you/.

Like clay in the hands of a skilled sculptor, so is language in the hands of Rocio. The language she used in this volume, interspersed with her native tongue, gives the collection the beauty it runs smoothly on. She is a master of the language arts. During the read, one could hear, feel, and see the words move from a spiritual plane to a more higher level of psyche, almost impossible to forget. It is not enough to say, Rocio is a master of language, she represents it. The movement is a gift. A rarity impressed deeply on every measure of cadence possible, as read in / threshold/ and no place to knock/ when you make a fist, you strike yourself/ the place the size of your fist/ ( the size of your suffering)/ is a mirror in your mother’s purse that you reach for in long lines/ waiting for ways to translate the word/ entry/.

To find the way home, there must be a door, or the symbol of a door. And that door, to Rocio, is the grief that subtends the entry point. There is no door, just windows as obscure as the search that leads nowhere but to grief. Rocio has given us the opportunity to experience the delve that’s her world, as universal, meaningful only in the search, in what haunts, and not in what one finds. In Rocio, we have found the things more spiritual and are sustained, only, in language than the things that do not exist, which includes the life we most seek; a world of endless happiness.

What haunts, and not in what one finds. In Rocio, we have found the things more spiritual and are sustained, only, in language than the things that do not exist, which includes the life we most seek; a world of endless happiness. What haunts, to Rocio, is more pervasive and the acceptance of this is exercise of selfhood in the varied forms of existence. Rocio’s existence becomes ours. And without the expression of this as the root of language, we will never be found in that state of loss. Loss being a kind of spirit adventure to find the self. In this collection, Rocio’s poetry is way too beautiful not to be read. She rose from a hauntingly beautiful and high crescendo to the altiplano full of flowers that grow on grief.


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