The Outer Bands is a first collection of poems from Andrés Montoya prize-winner Gabriel Gomez. The book is an expansive examination of language and landscape, voice and memory, where the balance between experimentation and tradition coexist. The poems realize a reconciliation between the writer’s voice and the voice of witness, wonder, and tragedy; a dialogue between two worlds that employ an equally paradoxical imagery of the American Southwest and the marshes of Southern Louisiana. The book concludes with its namesake poem, “The Outer Bands,” a twenty-eight-day chronicle of the days between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which together decimated the Gulf Coast region in 2005. The sequence poem, a pastiche and re-contextualization of images, news blurbs, and political rhetoric, travels and responds in a spare subjectivity to the storm. Gabriel Gomez completed it during a two-month emergency residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute after his home in New Orleans was destroyed.
"Gabriel Gomez has a perceptive eye and a cunning ear, bands of cellos and bands of starlings. And then The Outer Bands, where none of us is untouched or unmoved by the hurricane of devastation, this new century, so replete with human failures. For Gomez the longing of retablos, the aching after faith, is balanced with clarity and knowing. His poetry is a kindness in the midst of a disordered world; a spire rising from the floodwaters.What a remarkable gift to us all." —D. A. Powell
“Gabriel Gomez is an accomplished poet, one who honors the resonance of language as well as reverberations of form. And, like a retablo, each poem shimmers with reverence, if not for saints and Biblical figures, but for the beauty and poignancy of complex, contemporary life.” —Valerie Martinez, from the introduction