Laurie Ann Guerrero
Filled with the nuanced beauty and complexity of the everyday—a pot of beans, a goat carcass, embroidered linens, a grandfather’s cancer—A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying journeys through the inherited fear of creation and destruction. Guerrero’s tongue becomes a palpable border, occupying those liminal spaces that both unite and divide, inviting readers to straddle and explore that what is known and unknown: the body. Guerrero explores not just the right, but the ability to speak and fight for oneself, one’s children, one’s community—in poems that testify how, too often, we fail to see the power reflected in the mirror.
Available February 2013
University of Notre Dame Press
“This is the poetry of both saints and sinners (and even murderers). The poet conjures up Pablo Neruda, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sylvia Plath, and is rooted in the best Latin American, Chicano/a, and contemporary American poetics, able to render an effective poetic version of Nepantla, the land where different traditions meet, according to Anzaldúa. These poems make the reader laugh, cry, cringe, lose one’s breath, and almost one’s mind, at times.... These poems restore my faith in the power of poetry.” — Francisco X. Alarcón, judge
“Guerrero writes in a language of the body, visceral, almost unbearably vivid, the language of a poet who knows how to work with her hands. In an age when so many poems say nothing, these poems miss nothing ...attention must be paid to such a poet now and for years to come.” — Martín Espada, author of The Trouble Ball
“Guerrero has always written pointedly with a sharp pen and a sharp knife always at the ready. In her first full-length collection, these dazzling, edgy, irascible poems lean into their sweet natural bristling air, stitching and stretching image to image. This is the singing blue glory of language at its best.”
— Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split,
winner of The National Book Award
“In poems crafted with tremendous skill, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying explores, so often, the ways in which the colonized or poor or brown have been brutalized, and their stories written by the conquerors. But the wonderful discovery one makes while reading what’s often painful and heart-breaking is that Guerrero’s the one telling us. In other words, the re-writing is begun. This is a powerful, necessary book.”
— Ross Gay, author of Bringing the Shovel Down
"A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is populated by...women who defy and trouble long-held assumptions about, and expectations of, motherhood and maternal behavior: here, mothers take lovers, make war, cause damage — “make carnage of [their] own mouth[s].” And they also write daring poems that break with polite and romanticized representations of femininity, situating the woman as the source of her own volition, a daunting force to be reckoned with."
—Rigoberto Gonzalez for LA Review of Books
"..these verses of germination and carrying, of labor and production, deliver us to a place of potent ferocity, expressed in multilingual cries, embodied by the wide, red lips of earthenware vessels, and through eyes that refuse to back down."
—Diego Báez for Booklist Online
Born and raised in the Southside of San Antonio, Laurie Ann Guerrero received the Academy of American Poets Prize, among others, at Smith College. Winner of the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, her first full-length collection, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, selected by Francisco X. Alarcón, was released by University of Notre Dame Press in 2013. Guerrero's poetry and critical work have appeared in Huizache, Texas Monthly, Bellevue Review, Women's Studies Quarterly, Global City Review, Texas Observer, Chicana/Latina Studies, Feminist Studies and others. Guerrero holds a B.A. in English Language & Literature from Smith College and an MFA in poetry from Drew University. Guerrero's chapbook, Babies under the Skin (2008), won the Panhandler Publishing Award, chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye. A CantoMundo fellow and member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop, Guerrero’s work has been highlighted in the LA Review of Books, The Yale Daily News, and forthcoming in Poets & Writers Magazine. She is the winner of the 2013 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, a grant created by Sandra Cisneros to honor the memory of her father, which supports Texas writers who “exhibit both exceptional talent and profound commitment” to their craft. Guerrero has served on the faculty at Palo Alto College, University of the Incarnate Word, and Gemini Ink, a community-centered literary arts organization in San Antonio. She is a Visiting Writer at University of Texas, El Paso and Our Lady of the Lake University.
PHOTOS BY OCTAVIO QUINTANILLA, DREW GARCES
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