Synopses & Reviews
"In Beast Meridian, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal braids searing lyricism and intimate narratives into utterances and patterns that radicalize the heart and the eye. Rooted in the borderlands, Villarreal’s language — scarred but alive — confronts and refutes the violence of erasure and assimilation. ‘Every brutal abandoning’ of the self and of the flesh is rigorously and intensely rendered. Line after line shimmers with grace and fury. Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is an innovative and necessary poet. Beast Meridian is a high watermark in Latinx poetry. I will be teaching it often." Eduardo C. Corral
"Vanessa Villareal’s poems are alive, haired, precise and strange with ardor, with loss, with a remembering (live and lit!) born out of the crossroads of elegy and desire. With these poems I feel I have the rare and gorgeous chance to experience a formal invention built out of urgency, and with such intimacy. Here there is a diction, a music, knived and lucid. A body, or bodies, shapeshifting across pages, possessed and dispossessing, dying-birthing-getting born, simultaneously 'I' and 'we': 'your black cervix my first egg drop & / so we hatched myself—.' There is such a brilliance everywhere here." Aracelis Girmay
"Beast Meridian is a fierce incantation, harnessing the intuition and intelligence of personae navigating a 'melancholy galaxy'" full of the violences of societies and families, in which the pain of the earth and the pain of the body are not separate. In languages of tenderness and weaponry, landscapes and bodyscapes, insight and foresight, talismanic memories and imaginings, Vanessa Angelica Villareal constructs layered complications to see newly into, or grieve not being able to look beyond. Far from surrender, the poems write toward a communal resilience: 'entre todas las mujeres we kneel to push away the final night' — a unity among wounded women, their collective mythology infused with necessary interrogations and radiant intensity, as they (and their words) 'spill & spill until we spread / like a flood.'” Khadijah Queen
About the Author
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. She is descended from Silvia, Angélica, Carmen, and other survivors of colonization. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PBS Newshour, Poor Claudia, Apogee, Waxwing, The Wanderer, Sporklet, DIAGRAM, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. She has served as an editor for the Bettering American Poetry project and is a CantoMundo Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles, but her forever hometown is Houston, Texas.