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Daniel Borzutzky's Lake Michigan

Borzutzky’s depictions of violence are difficult to get through, but maybe that’s the only way to break the cycle.

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Lake Michigan
Daniel Borzutzky
University of Pittsburgh Press

In National Book Award winner Daniel Borzutzky’s latest release, Lake Michigan, the author takes an unflinching look at law enforcement. 

The Pittsburgh native’s poetry collection focuses in particular on one story ripped from the headlines: From 2004 to 2015, Chicago police ran a secret facility called Homan Square. There, 7000 people, including 6,000 African Americans were detained, interrogated and denied access to an attorney. 

Borzutzky relates the story of Homan Square and other instances of police brutality in Chicago. But the themes here are universal. 

In “Scene 10” of Act 2, Borzutzky writes, “The police shooting boys are like police shooting boys / And the nazis burning Jews are like nazis burning Jews / And the police protecting nazis are like police protecting nazis.” Here, as in many of the poems, the stanzas are repetitive and cyclical, reflecting that the atrocities are similarly repetitive and cyclical.  

Borzutzky’s depictions of violence are difficult to get through, but maybe that’s the only way to break the cycle.

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