Above: Bosque Poems focuses on the beauty, bounty, and fragility of the desert landscape. Photograph by Inga Hendrickson.
DURING HER 2018–20 TENTURE as Albuquerque poet laureate, Michelle Otero focused on the Río Grande Bosque—the beauty, bounty, and fragility of a slender desert landscape. In Bosque: Poems (UNM Press), she gives lyrical voice to the land as well as to the cultures deeply rooted within it. Men who lost their acres and a reason to live. Abuelas who know why the kitchen heals. Goddesses and snakes, librarians and seed savers. Otero pokes gentle fun at the things we fear (“gusty winds” that “may exist”) and the tragedy in what happens when a mighty river meets a system of dams. “They straightened the waters,” she writes, “twisted the men.”