Synopses & Reviews
Using both lyrical and narrative forms, these concise verses explore a family history set against the larger backdrop of Mexican history, immigration, and landscapes of the Southwest. The poets delicate touch lends these poems an organic quality that allows her to address both the personal and the political with equal grace. Straightforward without being simplistic or reductive, these poems manage to be intimate without seeming self-important.
This distinctive collection ranges from the frighteningly whimsical image of Cortés dancing gleefully around a cannon to the haunting and poignant discovery of a dead refugee boy seemingly buried within the poet herself. The blending of styles works to blur the lines between subjects, creating a textured narrative full of both imagination and nuance.
Ultimately, Empire situates individual experience in the wider social context, highlighting the power of poetry as song, performance, testimony, and witness. Addressing themes such as war, family, poverty, gender, race, and migration, Candelaria gives us a dialogue between historical and personal narratives, as well as discreet “conversations” between content and form.
"Fierce and finely crafted, Candelaria's Empire is a dazzling debut." —El Paso Times
"Empire is a sensuous and lucid meditation on lineage, from the haunting and mythic narratives of her ancestry to her tautly drawn memories of growing up in California. It is a book of tender and deeply imagined songs. I cannot recommend it enough." —Cathy Park Hong, author of Translating Mo'um
About the Author
Xochiquetzal Candelaria has had her work published in The Nation, The New England Review, Gulf Coast, The Seneca Review, and other magazines and journals. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and New York University and has received multiple fellowships, including those from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at San Francisco City College.