Poet Roberto Tejada uses lyrical poems to explore and give a voice to the troubles of global citizenship, US-Mexico relations, Latino identity, and the political emotion of queer sexualities. His collection provides a holistic ground-level view of pivotal world events from the mid 1990s to a more recent present. Tejada's innovative work dramatically widens the scope of Latina/o literature, showing us exactly what it can accomplish. The poems move very much like a three-act play, in which the first act is one of origins; the second, a staging of desire; and the third, a symbiosis. These acts magnify one another when unified. Each poem within the collection positions itself within the avant-garde, in which the artful use of language aims to dazzle, surprise, and enliven. The poems dance by, preserving a tension between hurry and delay, momentum and stasis, and every line is like a newly launched firecracker, sending out startling patterns of spark and flare. Tejada's exuberant language stretches the limits of selfhood and the way it is represented in poetry. He illuminates the tangled webs that are woven when identities are linked to sexuality, nationality, privilege, and temporality. The concerns and obsessions voiced here turn the construction of desire on its head, forcing us to ask ourselves what is worthy of our attentions.
Roberto Tejada is Distinguished Endowed Chair in Art History at Southern Methodist University. He is also the founder and co-editor of the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas and the author of Exposition Park.