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precis
José Felipe Alvergue




Omnidawn
2017 • 96 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Hispanic American

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-030-4



“In Alvergue’s poetic collage tracing the human effects of the U.S.-Mexico border, he shows the border to be simultaneously a policed realm, neoliberal market, an affective landscape of spectral echoes, and a geography of traces.”—Publishers Weekly

A poetic collage tracing the human effects of the US-Mexico border

The border is a policed realm, neoliberal market, an affective landscape of spectral echoes, a geography of traces. The death of a girl, a crossing narrative, media static of late-century rhetoric on border bodies, precis involves poetry in mapping the Mexico/US border and its relationship to America, while resisting the urge to impose definitiveness. precis simply asks: What about the body? What about the personal and the communal? The reader is asked to follow along without forgetting that overshadowed in every moment of the known, every authorization of what is, there is a print or silence asking what should also be.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Alvergue (gist : rift : drift : bloom) collages an enigmatic assemblage of sociopolitical theory, imagery, newspaper clippings, and rhetoric play in his second collection, echoing the ambiguity of the “border” that the book scrutinizes. The literal border lies between the U.S. and Mexico, but the book expands into a philosophical analysis of the boundaries between identities, bodies, and communities.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“precis, with its stutters and silences and its “broken strain of memory,” rises as a prayer against election year stump speeches that impose “on bodies the politics of narrative purpose.” Even in its precarity, no wall can be built to keep this precis, this prayer, from making its way inland or on shore, from disturbing those narratives that criminalize a people, leave them for dead, and re-criminalize them in their death. “From silence,” Alvergue writes, “the crossing begins,” “to give form to what [has] been lost,” to map the porous borders of “Amnesia y América.”—Rosa Alcalá

precis is both an expanded and emended version of José Felipe Alvergue’s underexposed 2008 book, us look up/there red dwells. Centered on the accidental, if all too predictable, death of a young girl, killed by a drunk driver (and posthumously found guilty of jaywalking) in the small town of Sidro. precis redacts some of the sections in us look up explicitly concerned with the dialectics among indigenous, Spanish and English discourses for a more explicit cultural poetics of recent USA and Mexican histories. Specifically, the book features a new middle section where two readings, two histories, of “development” along the USA/Mexican border collide as a palimpsest: former California governor Pete Wilson’s speech on immigration, immigrants and labor is overwritten by Alvergue’s disjunctive meditations on the precariat, borders, fences, topography, surveillance, etc., the ideological and material “weight” brought to bear on brown bodies. Concluding with a politically charged explication of the book’s making and its attempt to write back to empire, precis errs on the side of the human, reinscribing with a vengeance what, and who, are always under erasure.”
—Tyrone Williams


precis is a forensic report and an austere memorial to lives perishing into the fractures of national asymmetries. From factory wastelands and shallow graves, Alvergue composes a poetic score whose music and visual arrangement turn the language of policy and pages from the press into ambient sounds for lyric episodes. The ghosts of this particular place—the Tijuana-San Diego border—leave diagrams in the landscape that speak in this poem to the present choreographies of survival.”—Roberto Tejada, author of Exposition Park

From the Book:

Outside, the death of Alma is recorded into the digital space shaking in some hand –– some fingers fumble at the edges between –– will be print, anyway & a generality. Of simple.Tomorrow. Front doors & drive ways, neatly folded:
Too many Almas in Sidro the paper reads city can’t rid them fast enough
to create the room, empty the buildings, disoccupy the seats, the buses, the lines. The letters of history kept busied in the small town of Sidro ensure the progress.The death ofAlma Gonzalez breaks the backs.All the little black letters free from their natural inclination to stasis. Little letters remain the fragments of her body. A Santo is free.
The rain of her death back to the sudden earth is a fivehundred year explosion.The boulevard ends at a pier leading into the center of a reflecting Pacific. Silver suddenly, vomiting head into sea.The night holds little fragments & spreads it like sky like bread for everyone whispers Alma. Like death. For everyone purrs the motor of a white Ford Mustang corralled in tape, fed shards of glass by gloved officers, & cutlets of hair & denim like straws of hay by the awed tourists of this country.



JOSÉ FELIPE ALVERGUE was born in El Salvador and grew up on the Mexico/US border. He is a graduate of both the Buffalo Poetics and CalArts Writing programs. As a grain of the Central American diaspora he works between text, performance, and archive in mapping the transnationalisms that shape residential identity. josé also teaches transnational and contemporary literature in Wisconsin, and is the author of gist : rift : drift : bloo.



Sat, 30 Sep 2017 15:49:09 -0500