Fault Setting: Poems

“Here’s to homecoming, my friends,” Joel Toledo writes in his magnificent new book, Fault Setting. “Cheers to resistances.” Each poem in this collection is indeed a form of homecoming and an essay in resistance, a map of the heart that will guide readers into new worlds and ways of being. He is a poet who believes that “Sorrow can be alleviated.” And this book is proof of that. — Christopher Merrill, author of Boat

Toledo’s Fault Setting is propelled by the tentative: grave enunciations—stories, soliloquies, musings—tempered by subtle wit, conceits, tangents that reveal a strange eye through which the world’s fallibility is understood, in the meantime. There is no longer that surefooted voice of insight one might have loved in his early poetry, making this collection even more haunting, dangerous, and powerful—precisely for its ellipses, for its idiom, for the necessary slippages. — Allan J. Pastrana

Luminous, wizened, and witty—and that’s just the first ten poems. In, for instance, a poem centrifuged on silver and its many cultural implications and references, the skill is in hopscotching from history to geopolitics to sports to something as heartbreakingly personal as a tear on a dying mother’s eye, only to end with “(t)hat quiet jubilation behind the gold.” These new poems radiate a renewed confidence in tone and stride, rhythm and rhetoric. Toledo’s strange genius is for startling declaratives. And the turns of phrases have the impact of a fist to the gut, or in the poet’s own words, “neither breeze nor sunray” but “something gradual, like anesthesia / kicking in, a letter understood / years after.” — Lourd de Veyra
©2016