Synopses & Reviews
Whether silently coveting the birthday gifts of a privileged classmate, trying to connect with a mother’s ghost-like presence, or interrogating the dehumanizing impulse of an Arizona minuteman, the speaker of these poems often finds himself on the “wrong” side of the border that delineates a space of belonging, marginalized or estranged from his surroundings, observing the Other with a sense of both awe and bewilderment. As such, the poems invite the reader to consider the relationship between life observed and life lived, between detachment and experience, between at-homeness and exile. In the poem “Backlit”, for example, the speaker is transfixed by the darkening silhouette of a loved one standing before a window, this presence becoming an absence in the shape of a human body; he thinks to speak but doesn’t, foreshadowing the final poem about an intimate friend coming to terms with his imminent mortality through the quiet contemplation of an possum’s skeleton. These poems, navigating a landscape marked by political, physical, and emotional trauma, ultimately point to the potential of the sensual self – of touch – to transcend the limits of language.
“Such a wealth of perception in these voluptuous poems – through “the silent call of presence” absolutely everything is backlit and branching – precious family, rooms, whole eras of living. This is a wondrous book to be absorbed and found by.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“Poems that broke open my heart and haunted me. Beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable. A humble voice, and because of this humility, filled with grace.”
"There are poets who seem to ride a current, a wave of ideas and sentiments so vital for our times. Jose Antonio Rodriguez does this in spades--his narrative voice is strong, his images nuanced and surprising, his themes are from a world breaking down borders, imagining a deeper humanity, and drawing on the complex spectrum of what it is to be fully alive, fully sensual, fully in command of language and its beauty."
Luis J. Rodrigues
About the Author
JOSE ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ is winner of the 2011 SFA Press Prize in Poetry. He is the recipient of the 2010 Allen Ginsberg poetry award. In 2008, he headed “Writing By Degrees”, an invitational literary program conducted by the graduate department in English at Binghamton University. His poetry has appeared in Paterson Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Connecticut Review and elsewhere.” Rodriguez currently resides in McAllen, Texas.