Winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Ada Limón
Chosen as the winner of the 2021APR/Honickman First Book Prize by Guggenheim Fellow Ada Limón, Natasha Rao’s debut collection Latitude abounds with sensory delights, rich in colors, flavors, and sounds. These poems explore the complexities of family, cultural identity, and coming of age. By turns vulnerable and bold, Latitude indulges in desire: “In my next life let me be a tomato/lusting and unafraid,” Rao writes, “…knowing I’ll end up in an eager mouth.”
In Latitude, a most captivating debut, a new kind of topography unfolds where “...I want to return from reincarnation’s spin covered in dirt and buds.” Rao delivers in every sense of the word: a musical urgency and playfulness spring alive on every page – a timely demand to return to this extraordinary terrain again and again.
Natasha Rao’s debut collection Latitude, is simultaneously an ode and a lament in which the tender wry speaker is “trying to suck on this impossible world as if it were a piece of ice in my mouth”: both to savor and to melt the world’s overabundance. The poems hover at the edge of transformations where the speaker is self and other, silenced and full of surprising apprehensions, yearnings. Familial love, guilt, and coming-of-age urgencies ripple with eros, aftershocks, and quick, understated humor that together lift these poems into “Orbit, memorably.”