Jaswinder Bolina

poetry and other artifacts

The 44th of July

Posted in Books



The 44th of July offers a crushing critique of the current moment: the breakdown of human feeling and the rise of violence; the global flows of materialism and counter-circulation of refugees; the awful way we whistle while our pretense of democracy burns. But its poems trace these crises with irresistible exuberance and creativity. You will savor Bolina’s ability to walk a thread of language like a tightrope across time and space; you’ll wonder at the bizarre yet familiar worlds his inventive sentences create and inhabit. Jump aboard this merry-go-wrong . . . and hold on.

— Evie Shockley

The poems in Jaswinder Bolina’s third poetry collection (The 44th of July) are more than ‘political poems’–these are poems that are so well made that they sing; they roll off your tongue and strike through your soul.  Listen (from “Supremacy”): “the xenophobe fretful I’m somewhere/near, honing my chopsticks, loading/my tortas, my name writ in Gurmukhi,/he fidgets wakeful, fearful I’m awake also/reciting a scripture ruthless as his is/and I am.  I am awake and singing.”

— Victoria Chang

Jaswinder Bolina remains a sincere poet of necessary ironies, and The 44th of July is his opus, his ode to how well our nation falls apart in front of us.  Or, I should say, this book is a proper chronicle of how the ideal of America was never really made whole for all whom it claimed:  ‘You’ll need/new things you can’t even begin/to Costco, to crate or to barrel./Forget now your kitsch and granite/kitchen, your home depots/and free peoples, the soft power/of a staycation and owning/…the streetlights of your town./This is not your town. Nobody/here woos you…’  These Whitmanian litanies and lovely long sentences mean to include the excluded and even to afford for delight where evil thrives. This is a brilliant book by a masterful poet.

— Jericho Brown