• Jennifer Adair

Book Review: The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something by Joy Ladin

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Book Review of The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something


Joy Ladin

Syracuse University Press




300 pages


Reviewed by: Jennifer Adair

Joy Ladin is a transgender, Jewish woman whose literary career stretches into the last century. She is a widely published essayist, poet, literary scholar, and a recognized speaker on transgender issues. She has published nine books of poetry spanning 15 years. Her poetry is mostly free form, though she deftly handles rhyme, meter, and even difficult forms like the villanelle. In her most recent book, The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something (Shepp Meadow Press, 2017), she writes on a variety of topics, but they are generally grand ideas brought to a personal level. In "A Modest Proposal," she writes of world peace as a series of mundane activities like making mashed potato animals and searching library stacks. In "Speaking of Whiteness…" she addresses race and the history of America, but also the personal confusion of seeing or not seeing privilege. She even writes about writing, such as "The Poem and Me," which discusses the oddness of re-reading old work to which the connection has been lost. Neither time nor geography significantly impacts the majority of the poems, since a sense of grandness is maintained, an awareness of the large-scale issues being tackled, such as God, gender, and death. In this collection, Ladin showcases her mastery of the English language, with speakers ranging from biblical verse to Cosmo Girl catchphrases, to everyday speech. Through craft and construction, all these voices are made art. Juxtaposing all these voices reinforces the conjoined universality and individuality that Ladin strives to instill in her readers


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