Borders between countries, between family members, between languages, between the sentences in a poem. Some are porous and some — impermeable. El Valle captures a childhood and adolescence of unease, the impact of journeying between places, and the constant negotiating that is at the heart of the immigrant family's life. Esteban Rodríguez's poems are both quest and crossing, disarming in their form and comprehensive in their scope.
In the city with a heart in the heart of the Valley you smudge the haze off the edges of a scene see vans trailers see the way a tent unfolds like a moth see the signs staked crookedly across the lot advertising to the highway and the world beyond a circus a three-night extravaganza filled with elephants lions with trapeze artists who will bend the laws of gravity leave us feeling like we’ve never felt before or so the signs imply and because you in this moment are a child once again you beg your mom to take you claim that this week you’ll be good that you won’t ask for candies toys won’t refuse to do your chores and when at the show you’ll stay as still as possible will watch as the elephants play dead as the acrobats swing from bar to bar as the clowns trip over one another and their wigs fall off reveal a balding head you refuse to let distract you from the truth you believe in: all of this real and one day you too will shed your ordinariness be someone else" [extract from El Valle by Esteban Rodríguez]
Publication date: 25 October 2019.
Esteban Rodríguez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press 2019), (Dis)placement (Skull + Wind Press 2020), and the micro-chapbook Soledad (Ghost City Press 2019). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Shenandoah, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is the Interviews Editor at the EcoTheo Review and is a regular reviews contributor at PANK and Heavy Feather Review. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.