New Books in Poetry: Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán

Catrachos-poems by Roy G Guzman-New Books In Poetry

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a riveting conversation with Roy G. Guzmán about their new book Catrachos (Graywolf Press).

Guzmán’s Catrachos is a stunning debut collection of poetry that immerses the reader in rich, vibrant language. Described as being “part immigration narrative, part elegy, and part queer coming-of-age story,” this powerful collection blends pop culture, humor, with Guzmán’s cultural experience to explore life, death, and borders both real and imaginary.

“This isn’t supposed to be a history book, and yet it is,” says Guzmán in discussing Catrachos, explaining that the book is not supposed to be anthropology, sociology, or a testimonial either, and yet it is. “Those are the contradictions, especially when you’re a marginalized writer, your words are always operating on so many different frequencies at once.”

Here’s a sample of Guzmán’s writing from the book:

“It is not a fallacy that the pulpería owner who wakes up
dressed in a tunic of warriors’ pelos, or the milkman

pressing his rough hands against the cow’s tectonic body,
remembers the skirted boy with an ovarian lipstick for a tongue,

the boy who offered a tenth of his knees to the teeth
of a country with dentures.”

— from “Finding Logic in a Crushed Head”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Leave It Raw by Shakira Croce

Leave It Raw by Shakira Croce - New Books in Poetry

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Shakira Croce about her book Leave It Raw (Finishing Line Press, 2020).

Athena writes:

Like a storm waiting to break over a plain, Shakira Croce pulls at tensions and heartstrings in a debut collection filled with longing, wit, and intelligence. Through masterful imagery, Croce floats between the rural and urban with ease, pulling back the veil to see what lies beneath. These poems do not shy away from looking at life in all its beauty, violence, or complexities because within those boundaries we can begin to understand what it means to be human. As she writes in Homecoming,  “It’s about finding/the space/to bring out what’s already/inside you.” In Leave It Raw, Croce makes that space and empties out the heart for all to see.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Freedom Knows My Name by Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Freedom Knows My Name by Kelly Harris-DeBerry - New Books in Poetry

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Kelly Harris-DeBerry about her book Freedom Knows My Name (Xavier Review Press, 2020).

Athena writes:

In Freedom Knows My Name, Kelly Harris-DeBerry creates the world anew from scraps of memories and rhythm. She bounces between the pages, as well as the accompanying audio version of the poems, with confidence. Kalamu Ya Salaam writes in the introduction “The poet’s task is to turn words into song, utter incantations that heal, inspire, be more than ordinary talk” and Harris-DeBerry has a voice that encompasses each other those tasks. It is strong and it is unwavering. Whether she is on the page or in readers’ ears, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry is a bounty of culture, womanhood, home, and possibility. In an age where everything can be, and is, commodified for profit and the cool factor yet the actual Black artists producing the work can be undervalued, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry honors and respects the legacies of Southern migration, the Midwest, and Blackness.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: The Spinning Place by Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar-The Spinning Place

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation with Chelsea Wagenaar about her new book The Spinning Place (Southern Indiana Review Press).

Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place was winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches at Valparaiso University. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Image and The Southern Review.

“Moon-sliced star-pocked
streetlit bleat, coal train moving
like its own ghost along the tracks.
2:00, 3:000, my shadow sways
as I catch myself, hand on the wall,
pulled from bed by your nocturnal haunt,
you at your crib rail, blanket clutched,
more sound than body.”

— from “Night Shift”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Black Was Not a Label by Kathryn H. Ross

Black was not a label by Katheryn H Ross

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Kathryn H. Ross about her book Black Was Not a Label (Pronto, 2019).

Athena writes:

Kathryn H. Ross has found a balance. Between past and present. Between self and ancestors. Between self-discovery and continuous growth. In her hybrid collection, Black Was Not a Label, Ross invites readers into a life unfurling. Through the lenses of natural hair, faith, and microaggressions, she lights a path to what it means to seek self while still honoring the past lives, personal and historical, that connect us all.

Black Was Not a Label (Pronto, 2019) is as soft as it is sharp. Ross is a writer of humanness, one who finds more interest in what we feel than theme. Yet, even in this general warmth, she manages to hone in on topics that have rippled throughout generations. Readers are not allowed to look away from the sometimes ingrained expectations of assimilation nor are we allowed to put down the weight of all that came before us. What she gives us in this collection are the means to carry it with grace and the hope it will become a little lighter.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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