Miss Manhattan
by Biman B. Roy
Author Reputation Press

"Superheroes are born in New York
because of skyscrapers and elevated rails,
as their imagination soars high up..."

Beginning with an epitaph from Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Roy’s collection of poems serves as a love letter to New York City in all its glorious splendor and gritty grime. The poet dedicates this book to fellow New Yorkers, and throughout the range of poetic offerings, a heady and celebratory undercurrent runs throughout, tying the forty-six poems together, all grounded in the Big Apple. Like the painting of an accomplished Expressionist, the poet’s words, images, vignettes, and nuanced creative expression are employed in service to a literary celebration of the great northeastern American city.

The true draw of these poetic selections, elements sure to please any reader appreciative of rich imagery and narrative, lies in the casual observations of NYC people, places, and happenings. In the poem “Only Here,” for example, Roy writes: “When I walk in the shade of a side street, / a pizza deliveryman bicycles past my dreaming self / with a red and blue cape, and a young woman / wearing a blooming magnolia blouse bends over / through her second-floor window and reads / from War and Peace loudly to the crowd below.” Later, in “Picasso at the Park,” the author writes of the “wind over the Hudson,” describing the “soft, moist grass of Central Park.” A showing of Picasso’s paintings features women, wandering animals, violin and guitar, all “signs of life on earth.”

Sappho can be found in these eclectic poems, as can poet Marianne Moore, Mozart, Monet, Shakespeare, Chopin, Socrates, and Robert DeNiro. Marchers to Stonewall, “through a field of petunias” populate these poems, as do tattoo parlor clientele, such as in the poem “One Tattoo at a Time,” where onlookers gaze, “curious, playful.” This poetry itself is curious and playful, intelligently written, and bears a pleasurable aesthetic. These poems are approachable, colorful, and full of city-life fascinations.

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