Puerto Rico

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, page 124.

Puerto Rico by Anita Virgil (2015, Peaks Press, Forest, Virginia). 24 pages, 5½×8½ inches, saddle-stapled. ISBN 0-9628567-5-4. $10.00 from 202 Merrywood Drive, Forest, VA 24551 or email avirgil2@outlook.com.

This travel journal tells of the author’s visit to Puerto Rico from New York City. Each page offers one to three short paragraphs and sometimes a haiku (only nine poems in total), with cover art and one interior painting by Theodore Lodigensky. The font size seems a little small when the pages are mostly blank, but the prose tells a gratifying story about a fairly predictable tourist exploration of a Caribbean island (the poems are less successful, as in “despite this heat / palm’s rough brown base / mummy-wrapped / chills me”). While the story may be typical, with moments of pleasure and confusion in a foreign culture, the language shines with richness and colour, giving readers a real sense of being there. What’s perhaps most significant about this book is that, although short, it’s a single long narrative, not often attempted in books of English-language haibun.