English as a Second Language and Other Poems

Jaswinder Bolina

In Jaswinder Bolina’s English as a Second Language and Other Poems, we are asked to imagine the tender and harsh realities of this world within a single breath—a Steiff monkey resting next to a child in a crib and the tired hands of “a thousand women in Sidi Bouzid” assembling the stuffed animal. Coated in an armor of wit and humor and steeped in the idiosyncrasies of language, English as a Second Language pits sentimentality against cynicism and the personal against the national. What remains is the kaleidoscopic image of the modern American condition.

ISBN: 9781556596575

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Jaswinder Bolina’s previous books include his debut essay collection Of Color (McSweeney’s 2020) and three full-length poetry collections, The 44th of July (Omnidawn 2019), Phantom Camera (New Issues Press 2013, winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry), and Carrier Wave (CLP 2007, winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry). He is also author of the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (Floating Wolf Quarterly 2014). His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from journals and magazines including American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares, …

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“Pierces through its sketch-comedy conceit . . . with poignent anxieties.”—Christopher Spaide, Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

“With his third collection, Jaswinder Bolina hits his stride, melding fierce and heartbroken politics with a flair for the surreal to portray America in the throes of the pandemic. . . . Bolina’s ironic humor feels like the inevitable vehicle for this insight, and these poems are often darkly laugh-out-loud funny.”—Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

“Jaswinder Bolina turns the elegy on its head (or at least twists its arm) . . . and they are so often comic, making the reader chuckle as often as weep.”—Charles Rammelkamp, The Lake

“A testament to Bolina’s command of verse, each poem infused with musicality and sharp wit. The book confronts the complexities of living in a nation increasingly intolerant to immigrant families, both as the child of immigrants and a father in conflict with his own emotions. Readers encounter anger and exasperation with systemic oppression, but also sheer joy and optimism in the small celebrations of parenthood, rendering English as a Second Language and Other Poems one of the most accessible and timely collections of the year.”—The Poetry Question