This recognition—the moment at which a tragic hero realizes the true nature of his own character, condition, or relationship with an antagonistic entity—is what Aristotle called anagnorisis. Not concerned with placatory gratitude nor with coddling the sensibilities of the country's racial majority, Dargan challenges America: "You, friends- / you peckish for a peek / at my cloistered, incandescent / revelry-were you as earnest / about my frostbite, my burns, / I would have opened / these hands, sated you all."
At a time when U.S. politics are heavily invested in the purported vulnerability of working-class and rural white Americans, these poems allow readers to examine themselves and the nation through the eyes of those who have been burned for centuries.
“The poems in Anagnorisis are weightlifting; repeatedly pushing the burden of current events—the gentrification of DC, the numberless black deaths at the hands of authority, U.S./Global relations, our rapidly altering ecosystem—away from chest, trying to hold them at a distance, only to pull them back and attempt to master the muscle required to survive and write and celebrate in times like these. ‘Rage would be a word to fit in the mouth/ had the mouth not grown small from watching,’ Dargan writes, and does the work of gracefully making room in his poems to get eye-to-eye with a people’s mammoth rage, and also remind us of the daily, small, and enduring hopes we must have for a better nation and world.” —Elizabeth Acevedo, author of The Poet X