José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he coedited the poetry anthology The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext. He cohosts the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods. His latest book is the poetry collection, Promises of Gold.
Book by José Olivarez
A groundbreaking collection of poems addressing how every kind of love—self, brotherly, romantic, familial, cultural—is birthed, shaped, and complicated by the invisible forces of gender, capitalism, religion, migration, and so on.
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 grapples with the contradictions of the American Dream laying bare the ways in which “love is complicated by forces larger than our hearts.”