In four sections, up-and-coming poet Melissa Castillo-Garsow explores theories (and stereotypes) of Mexicanidad, shares her "unspeakable" secrets and fears, gets lost in both México and Nueva York, and walks 130 blocks in an attempt to find home. Infused with the inspirations of Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, John Murillo, Frida Kahlo, rap en español, and the voices of her friends, family and foes; Coatlicue Eats the Apple is at once journey and homecoming.
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In Coatlicue Eats the Apple, we are returned to the elemental host of life and death. Castillo-Garsow defies fears in the deftness of her verse, interweaving the mythic with the intimately personal. In lines like, “I wonder how many times / I’ll have to slice the tongue / from my mouth,” a transnational and translanguaging identity is explored, tension-explicit and knife-precise. Readers are guided into systemic and lyric analysis that does not dull the senses; rather, Castillo-Garsow’s poetics counters the reification of hegemony and the dehumanization of peoples/transformation into automatons: “Calló el sistema / and we were all / in the rubble again”. In her denial of the status quo, she enlivens and humanizes. In a world fraught with injustice, Castillo-Garsow pulls no punches at the intersection of poet, warrior, and scholar and claims: “I am that vector. We are starting and ending in the same place”. There is hope and careful craft in that daring. Hers is a poetics of blood, heritage, comunidad that defies barriers (racial, historical, geographical, and otherwise), y mujeres fuertes of myth and heart and now: “bc today I walked / 130 blocks./tomorrow/I will run.” Yes, yes. In my power and inspired by this power, me, too.
- Raina J. León, PhD. , Poet, Teacher, Scholar. Learn more here.
"Melissa Castillo-Garsow is the here, the now and the root. Coatlicue speaks in the voice of the ancestors, but wears it's great great grandchild's pencil skirt, and rocks multiple degrees. A collection of history and truth, the words offer how it's all changed, and still stayed the same. Melissa is the next, and the nexus that excavates identity, past, present and truth from the page and puts it in front of you to examine, wish and wonder at."
- Mikal Amin, Poet, MC & Cultural ambassador alum, State Department’s American Music Abroad Program.
Castillo-Garsow's Coatlicue Eats the Apple is a dense three course meal of language. There are metropolises, ancestry, history, jungles, borders, tradition & culture to eat in all these poems. When you read these prepare yourself because these poems will make you want to find the recipes, secrets & mystery of yourself & those before you.
Bonafide Rojas, author of "Renovatio" & "When The City Sleeps"
In Coatlicue Eats the Apple, Melissa Castillo-Garsow introduces us to the poetry of refusal and discovery. By subverting sacred symbols with angsty, humorous rebellion, Castillo-Garsow becomes the iconoclast that we all need. Beware: her poetry is not for us who seek decoration and adornment; her poetry is the mosh pit into which we are accidentally tossed, momentarily lost, and thankfully self-discovered --Willie Perdomo, author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon.
Coatlicue Eats the Apple will be available again soon. Check back for details about a second printing by Pen & Anvil Press.
More than just a kinetic work of bilingual poetry, Castillo-Garsow's debut charts a new language, a mestiza speech of border-crossing and barrier-challenging. "Estoy destroyed," she writes, not just placing Spanish alongside English but excavating one language from within another, conjuring a third as she does. Eked out of "paprika & leather feeling" as well as theory and history, these are the poems of "rhythm and / heartbreak and cultura," and they sing it with clenched fists, as they must. Coatlicue Eats the Apple is a dare you would be unwise to turn down. - Lytton Smith, Phd;
“Coatlicue da luz a todo y a todo devora. Ella es el monstruo que se tragó todos los seres vivientes y los Astros, es el monstruo que se traga al sol cada tarde y le da luz cada mañana. Coatlicue is a rupture in our everyday world. As the Earth, she opens and swallows us, plunging us in the underworld where the soul resides, allowing us to dwell in darkness.”