Lessons on Expulsion

Lessons on Expulsion : Poems

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An award-winning and hard-hitting new voice in contemporary American poetry The first time I ever came the light was weak and carnivorous. I covered my eyes and the night cleared its dumb throat. I heard my mother wringing her hands the next morning. Of course I put my underwear on backwards, of course the elastic didn't work. What I wanted most at that moment was a sandwich. But I just nursed on this leather whip. I just splattered my sheets with my sadness. --from "Poem of My Humiliations" "What is life but a cross / over rotten water?" Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sanchez's powerful debut poetry collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border--the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead. Sanchez tells her own story as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants and as part of a family steeped in faith, work, grief, and expectations. The poems confront sex, shame, race, and an America roiling with xenophobia, violence, and laws of suspicion and suppression. With candor and urgency, and with the unblinking eyes of a journalist, Sanchez roves from the individual life into the lives of sex workers, narco-traffickers, factory laborers, artists, and lovers. What emerges is a powerful, multifaceted portrait of survival. Lessons on Expulsion is the first book by a vibrant, essential new writer now breaking into the national literary landscape.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 73 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 10mm | 159g
  • Graywolf Press
  • New York
  • English
  • 1555977782
  • 9781555977788
  • 742,579

About Erika L. Sanchez

Erika L. Sanchez has won a "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Her debut novel is forthcoming from Knopf Books for Young Readers. She lives in Chicago.show more

Review quote

"[A] fierce, assertive debut."--The Washington Post "Skillful and striking. One of my new favorite poetry collections, Lessons on Expulsion is a beautiful debut work of history, womanhood and love."--Ms. Magazine "With lushness of phrase and dynamic displays of body and joy and despair and hurt, Sanchez's debut collection strikes like human thunder, the air burnt in the reader's lungs."--Frontier Poetry "Vibrant and superbly written. . . . [Lessons on Expulsion] offers an exploration of what it is to live, love, and suffer on this Earth. . . . Not to be missed."--Library Journal, starred review "Sanchez negotiates an imaginative space between oral history and journalistic reportage. . . . Sanchez is as capable of intriguingly surrealist gestures . . . as of photographic depictions. . . . Throughout, a sense of menace pervades all the joyfully vivid detail."--Publishers Weekly "[A] compelling debut. . . . Sanchez minces no words in challenging accepted notions of femininity, race, religion, and sexuality."--Booklist "A rare one with phosphorescent night-powers & deep-fire mind tools, Erika L. Sanchez--here's her ground-crackling first poetry volume. A prize-eater."--Juan Felipe Herrera, US Poet Laureate "Lessons on Expulsion marks the arrival of a vital new voice in American poetry. With penetrating intelligence and lyrical precision, Erika L. Sanchez makes visible the violence striking down Mexican women living on the border and interrogates the historical and the familial origins of misogyny. Her deft braiding of the beautiful and the grotesque infuses her language with a shimmering rawness and a startling immediacy. Her gaze is unflinching and feminist; it marvels and questions and testifies. Lessons on Expulsion is an uncompromising and singular debut."--Eduardo C. Corral "Erika L. Sanchez writes with persistent care. . . . Reading Sanchez's poems is like watching the world from a train, the exquisite rhythmic blend of the known and the unknown. The world remains always more than we can understand, yet suddenly, thanks to her great poetry, we are pierced by what we know."--Eileen Mylesshow more

Rating details

74 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 36% (27)
4 31% (23)
3 26% (19)
2 5% (4)
1 1% (1)
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