The Book of What Remains

Overview

“To write well about your life, you need to have a life worth writing about. On that score, Sáenz hits pay dirt.” —Booklist

“A former Catholic priest, this poet creates prayerful verse that is at once mystical and utterly human.” —The Washington Post

Poet, novelist, and popular YA writer Benjamin Alire Sáenz writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty ...

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Overview

“To write well about your life, you need to have a life worth writing about. On that score, Sáenz hits pay dirt.” —Booklist

“A former Catholic priest, this poet creates prayerful verse that is at once mystical and utterly human.” —The Washington Post

Poet, novelist, and popular YA writer Benjamin Alire Sáenz writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty. In his numbered series “Meditation on Living in the Desert,” Sáenz turns to memory, heritage, and a host of literary progenitors as he directly confronts matters of faith, civil rights, and contemporary politics—always with the unrelenting moral urge to speak truth and do something.

I am looking at a book of photographs.
The photographs document the exodus of Mexicans crossing the desert.
I am staring at the face of a woman who is more a girl than a woman.
She is handing her documents to a government official.

I know and you know and we all know that the documents are forged.
The official is not in the photograph.

Only the frightened eyes of a girl.

A former Catholic priest who worked with Mother Teresa, Benjamin Alire Sáenz has published five books of poetry, four novels, a collection of short stories, and two bilingual children’s books. He received the American Book Award and teaches in the bilingual MFA program at University of Texas, El Paso.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In poems set along the border, Sáenz (Calendar of Dust) reports his feelings—indeed, rage—about a variety of sociopolitical topics, including immigration. Using a conversational strategy, he delivers declarative, prosy lines, and the resulting confusion between poetry and speechmaking will blur the poet's voice for some readers. In most of these poems, Sáenz plays the role of performer or stand-up comedian in front of a zealous audience. His bitterness is reinforced by the overuse of certain words, such as spit: "Lenin! Lenin! ... Ahh, he's dead/ dead/ spit" and "This will give me an excuse to spit / When I am reading New York Times Book Review." Poetry of anger has a long and honorable tradition, as exemplified recently by the Beats and Ginsberg in particular, but Sáenz is not always so successful in finding intense language and rich poetic imagery. VERDICT These poems will interest readers who enjoy heated political poetry and share Sáenz's convictions, but the moralizing tends to undermine the concept of poetry as an intellectual and passionate process to capture and reshape life.—Sadiq Alkoriji, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592973
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 124
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

A former Catholic priest, Benjamin Sáenz, has published five books of poetry, four novels, a collection of short stories, and two bilingual children's books. He received the American Book Award, and teaches in the MFA program at University of Texas, El Paso.

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