by José Olivarez
In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between.
Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in. Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.
"Incredible... Olivarez gives us the poem as incantation, using language to transcend the limits of social constructions and the physical, temporal world." --The Rumpus
"José Olivarez's work shines a spotlight on the often-overlooked stories of Mexican-Americans in the Midwest. This identity is illustrated throughout Citizen Illegal in all of its complexities--the connections between Mexican-Americans and labor and the all too familiar feeling of being ni de aqui, ni de alla (not from here, nor there)." --Remezcla
"This striking collection of poems is a testament to art's power to shine a light on the beauty and nuance of family life and the plight of oppressed populations." --NPR, "Best Books of 2019"
About the Author:
José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is a co-host of the podcast, The Poetry Gods. A winner of fellowships from Poets House, The Bronx Council On The Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and The Conversation Literary Festival, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets and elsewhere. He is the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors.