Cenzontle Poems

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, 1988-

Book - 2018

"A new edition of American contemporary poetry"--

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A. Poulin, Jr. new poets of America series ; v. 40.
Rochester, NY : BOA Editions, Ltd 2018.
First edition
Physical Description
108 pages ; 23 cm
Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize
Includes bibliographical references (pages 102-103).
Main Author
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, 1988- (author)
Other Authors
Brenda Shaughnessy, 1970- (writer of foreword)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Castillo's lyrically rich and cinematic debut compresses the emotional resonances of lived experience into poetic narratives of devotion, eroticism, family, labor, and migration. The poems make displays of fragility and power by turn, a duality drawn into relief by the precarious condition of the undocumented immigrant. In "Immigration Interview with Don Francisco," the interviewee conjectures that "Perhaps the butterflies are mute because/ no one would believe their terrible stories." But Castillo resists resignation to silence; his poems embody a belief in art's transformative ability. Lush musicality renders agricultural labor, corporeal punishment, and romantic difficulties beautiful. Forged in Keatsian negative capability, Castillo's poetics often involve finding the description that will lift the painful or unjust into music: "The bird's beak twisted/ into a small circle of awe// You called it cutting apart/ I called it song." In certain moments that turn toward song becomes a survival tactic ("After the first boy called me a wetback,/ I opened his mouth and fed him a spoonful of honey") and in other moments a way of relating to what one loves. Thus, Castillo's poems become objects of community and gratitude: "I leaned into you,/ all of you,/ as if in chorus." (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A new edition of American contemporary poetry" --

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Winner of the 2019 GLCA New Writers AwardAn NPR Best Book of 2018In this highly lyrical, imagistic debut, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo creates a nuanced narrative of life before, during, and after crossing the US/Mexico border. These poems explore the emotional fallout of immigration, the illusion of the American dream via the fallacy of the nuclear family, the latent anxieties of living in a queer brown undocumented body within a heteronormative marriage, and the ongoing search for belonging. Finding solace in the resignation to sheer possibility, these poems challenge us to question the potential ways in which two people can interact, love, give birth, and mourn—sometimes all at once.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A lyrical debut exploring the emotional fallout of immigration, childbirth, queer desire within a heteronormative marriage, and, ultimately, belonging.