LONGLISTED FOR THE 2023 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
‘[Promises of Gold] has put Olivarez at the forefront of not only first-generation poetics, but of all poetry. This one here is for us — the ones who hide garden shears in their poems’ Javier Zamora
Love is at the heart of everything we do, and yet it is often mishandled, misrepresented, or narrowly defined. In the words of José Olivarez: ‘How many bad lovers have gotten poems? How many crushes? No disrespect to romantic love — but what about our friends? Those homies who show up when the romance ends to help you heal your heart. Those homies who are there all along — cheering for us and reminding us that love is abundant.’
Written in English and combined with a Spanish translation by poet David Ruano, Promises of Gold explores many forms of love and how ‘a promise made isn’t always a promise kept,’ as Olivarez lays bare the ways in which ‘love is complicated by forces larger than our hearts.’ It is an attempt to reckon with colonial legacy and the reality of what those promises and dreams have borne out for Mexican descendants. ‘I wrote this book to imagine and document an ongoing practice of healing,’ writes Olivarez, ‘healing that requires me to show up for myself, my community, my friends, my family, and my loves every day.’
Whether readers enter this collection in English or Spanish, these extraordinary poems, written with empathy and humour, are sure to be cherished for their illuminations of all the rhythms of life — and love.