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Promises of Gold by José Olivarez (Paperback)

Promises of Gold by José Olivarez (Paperback)

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Poetry Collection

Published: 2/20/2024

Translated by: David Ruano

“How many bad lovers have gotten poems? How many crushes? No disrespect to romantic love―but what about our friends? Those homies who are there all along―cheering for us and reminding us that love is abundant.”

In this groundbreaking collection of poems, José Olivarez explores every kind of love―self, brotherly, romantic, familial, cultural. Grappling with the contradictions of the American Dream with unflinching humanity, he lays bare the ways in which “love is complicated by forces larger than our hearts.”

Whether readers enter this collection in English or via the Spanish translation by poet David Ruano González, these extraordinary poems are sure to become beloved for their illuminations of life―and love.

“¿Cuántas malas parejas han inspirado poemas? ¿Cuántos crush es? Sin faltarle el respeto al amor romántico―pero ¿qué hay de los amigos? Esos compas que están ahí todo el tiempo―animándonos y recordándonos que elamor es abundante”.

En esta innovadora colección de poemas, José Olivarez explora cada tipo de amor―el propio, fraternal, romántico, familiar, cultural. Lidiando con las contradicciones del sueño americano, con una humanidad inquebrantable, deja al descubierto las maneras en que “el amor se va complicando por fuerzas más grandes que nuestros corazones”.

Ya sea que los lectores entren a esta colección en inglés o a partir de la traducción al español del poeta David Ruano González, estos extraordinarios poemas serán amados seguramente por sus iluminaciones sobre el amor y la vida.


José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by the Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he coedited the poetry anthology The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext. He cohosts the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods.

"Glistening. . . . Olivarez elevates small but notable moments through a sensitive, introspective speaker who must learn tough lessons on the streets of Calumet City. . . Bilingual readers will enjoy flipping back and forth to see how the prism of each poem changes its hue in the light of another language."--Booklist starred review

"This book reads like an ode to people of color who are handed a broom, assumed to be the help, when in reality we are equal. He's rewriting the history of colonization and challenging us to unlearn its impacts one poem at a time."-- Chicago Reader

" Promises of Gold is a uniquely bilingual celebration of life and the mundane. . . . While inspired by Olivarez's distinctly second-generation Mexican immigrant experiences, Promises of Gold expresses themes of hope, dreams, family, and friendship that can apply to anyone, regardless of their background."-- The Harvard Crimson

"Out of Calumet City, weighing in at around 160 plus Promises of Gold, in both English and Spanish, the one that's poly with his tortillas, the masterfully playful, the uniquely imaginative, the one that bets everything he has on his people, the one, the only, José Olivarez is the undisputed Mexican champ. The cypher that straddles between dólares and dolores, this quintessential second collection has put Olivarez at the forefront of not only first-generation poetics, but of all poetry. This one here is for us--the ones who hide garden shears in their poems."--Javier Zamora, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Solito

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