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poems & impersonations
Joseph Rios

2017 • 88 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Hispanic American

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-043-4

“Rios draws readers into a combination coming-of-age story and satire of academic pretension in his audacious debut.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A mashup of poetry and theater collaged from the overlooked voices of California’s labor class

Borrowing the poetic language found in boxing lore and in the Rocky films, Shadowboxing pieces together a poetic portrait of Josefo, a Chicano adolescent working and becoming a poet in the farm territories of Central California. Rios confounds the relationship between author, speaker, and subject within various forms and, at times, across genre. He challenges the usefulness of poetry and stands upon oral histories to demystify California’s overlooked labor class. Rios invites the reader to enter Josefo’s world of memory, experience, and talk, of packinghouse mentors, storytelling grandmothers, parable-sharing plumbers, smooth talking truck drivers, and infinitely patient literature professors.

Reviews / Endorsements

“In a dazzling display, Rios blends prose poems, dramatic dialogs, and punch-in-the-gut verse to record the life of Chicano adolescent Josefo, not incidentally showing us working-class California along the way.”—Book Verdict

“Shadowboxing by Joseph Rios. Goddamn.”—Chiwan Choi, The Millions

“"In the meditative and seductive prose poem, There Is No Tomorrow Rios delivers a provocative manifesto that clarifies the need for direct action as embodied in public expressions of unrest at American universities:

‘There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so / odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t / even passively take part and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the / gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to /
make it stop.
—Sonja James,
The Journal

“‘Voice’ and ‘epic’ are words that are distributed loosely in the poetry world. But I use them with all heat that I can muster. Joseph Rios does for Xican@ poetics what Jean Toomer’s Cane did for the Harlem Renaissance: he radicalizes it into an undeniable modernity. And like Toomer, Rios uses all the genres at his disposal. He uses the epistle, the dramatic dialogue, epigrams from popular culture, and even has a Romantic touch. Pablo Neruda hoped for a poetry that could feed us with the bounty of bread. Rios’s audiences, his carneles, want to know if poetry can fix a broken down Cherokee. That is what the poet, in the shadow of machismo and financial pragmatism, is up against.” —Willie Perdomo

JOSEPH RIOS was born in Clovis, California. He is a VONA alumnus, a Macondo fellow, and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Los Angeles.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:54:03 -0500