Review: Maverick by Fernando Rover Jr.

Review originally published on Reedsy Discovery.


Maverick by Fernando Rover Jr. blends poetic and photographic storytelling to create a strong sense of place, belonging and reclamation. While the calibre of poetry wanes in the second half, it is still possible to appreciate Rover Jr’s skill at capturing place and self-portraits.


Split into three sections (Awakening, Reckoning and Embodying), Awakening is the most powerful and most polished. The choral quality of the poems in Awakening, like ‘My Neighborhood, My Village’ and ‘Revolutionary Child’ create an immediate sense of community. A community continually wronged by the USA’s power- and money-hungry plutocracy — characterised by a legacy of European imperialism and the West’s dependency on capitalism. Lines such as 'for you are your ancestor's wildest dream' and 'And this land will always be stolen until all of us are free' inspire hope, a fierce desire for change, and are the very breath of Maverick and what Rover Jr. intends to explore and comment upon.


The choice to have every photograph in black and white sends a provocative message too as it poses the question of it a future of freedom really is as complex as many would have us believe.


As the collection progressed, I personally felt the poems began to lack original imagery as they relied heavily on images we all know and overuse when beginning our craft. This was a disappointing contrast to how the collection opened — Rover Jr. attempted to explore several facets of community and the self and the quality suffered somewhat.


I did, however, enjoy the several self-portraits in this collection. The overlay of other photographs over the face was a beautifully poignant choice and complemented the creator's statement of 'the personal as political'. The erasure of the creator's statement at the end was also very clever.


Thus, I believe Maverick is worth reading — more so as a project and as social commentary on the world we live in and how it continues to punish marginalised communities, simply for existing.



 

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