Analicia Sotelo (Author)
DescriptionSelected by Ross Gay as winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo's debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman. In Virgin, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity--of naiveté, of careless abandon--before sharply exploring the intelligence and fortitude of women, how "far & wide, / how dark & deep / this frigid female mind can go." A schoolgirl hopelessly in love. A daughter abandoned by her father. A seeming innocent in a cherry-red cardigan, lurking at the margins of a Texas barbeque. A contemporary Ariadne with her monstrous Theseus. A writer with a penchant for metaphor and a character who thwarts her own best efforts. "A Mexican American fascinator." At every step, Sotelo's poems seduce with history, folklore, and sensory detail--grilled meat, golden habañeros, and burnt sugar--before delivering clear-eyed and eviscerating insights into power, deceit, relationships, and ourselves. Here is what it means to love someone without truly understanding them. Here is what it means to be cruel. And here is what it means to become an artist, of words and of the self. Blistering and gorgeous, Virgin is an audacious act of imaginative self-mythology from one of our most promising young poets.
February 20, 2018
5.5 X 0.5 X 8.4 inches | 0.36 pounds
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About the Author
Analicia Sotelo is the author of Nonstop Godhead, which was selected by Rigoberto González for a 2016 Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. Her poem "I'm Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It's Awful" was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Her poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Iowa Review. She earned her MFA from the University of Houston and works for Writers in the Schools in Houston.
Praise for Virgin "Sotelo's best poems are first person . . . She relays experience without evasive disjunction or false coherence. Sotelo's complicated ambivalence about men who 'still love girls, but rarely admit it' is disturbing and authentic."--New York Times "Sotelo's virgins rage with heartbreak and humor . . . The speaker of Sotelo's Virgin redefines vulnerability in a collection of poems that combine unrequited feelings, myth, fatherlessness, and heartbreak with a sense of humor, sensitivity, and feistiness."--BuzzFeed "Dazzling . . . [Sotelo] speaks to the heartache of crushes, relationships and a longing for freedom from the expectations amplified by religion and culture."--NBC News "[Sotelo's] work challenges the two-dimensional feminine stereotype by infusing her female voices, including Ariadne's, with intellect, wisdom and complications."--PBS NewsHour "Gorgeous . . . With candor and humor, Sotelo has given voice to women not often seen in the pages of American literature and has revealed in innovative ways the messiness that often characterizes relationships. Virgin heralds an important new voice in the world of poetry."--Houston Chronicle "Virgin is the poetry of a purple Texas. . . . This smart and timely collection shows that we are in many ways already living in that world transformed, with all its promises and problems."--Texas Observer "Virgin gorgeously, sensuously explores the pleasures and problems of the feminine experience. Sotelo's language is as lush and hot as the inside of a woman's mouth; her words can feel like a fever, like your eyes will blister if you stare too long at the page. . . . And what a pleasure to be hurt this way, with these words."--Nylon "Virgin introduces readers to a young, Mexican-American feminist narrator who is sarcastic and unafraid, curious and self-discovering, and interested in everything from unrequited love and heartbreak to un-romanticized sex and the historically fraught terrain of virginity, and so much more. Analicia Sotelo dives headfirst into the complexities of the female experience and mind, and you're going to love her for it."--Bustle "In this stunning debut collection, there's a tension between witnessing and participating, the desire to be seen but also the desire to control that vision. Sotelo uses surprising language, insight, and wit to explore what it means to be Mexican-American as well as a young woman in a male-dominated world."--Rumpus "[A] sexy, magical volume of poetry, in which Ariadne and Theseus and Persephone appear to reflect and refract notions of contemporary American girlhood in the most scintillating manner possible."--Literary Hub "A significant debut. . . . Sotelo's poetry reveals the weight of desire, how our hearts drag our bodies. . . . Imbued with Catholic cultural touches, Sotelo mines the Marian paradox with complexity, grace, and power."--The Millions "[Virgin] pulls no punches when it comes to deconstructing toxic masculinity. But Sotelo's writing also embraces ambiguity, and all the inevitable messiness that comes with lust, love and self-discovery."--Houstonia Magazine "There are echoes of Sylvia Plath in [Sotelo's] odes . . . Brutal in execution but with a bitingly humorous undercurrent, this collection lays bare an image of femininity in our society."--Booklist (starred review) "Sotelo explores the power of mythologizing personal history in her striking debut . . . and from the start [she] cultivates intimacy through moments of vulnerability. . . . With humanity and raw honesty, Sotelo finds fresh ways to approach romance, family, and more."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "It's rare to have a poet allow each line a special place and give it such a big life; for this writer makes words alive, surprising, with unintended consequences. . . . [Sotelo is] deeply meaningful about human relationships and has the ability in this book to reframe poetry."--Washington Independent Review of Books "[A] witty, searing poetry collection . . . Sotelo not only subverts feminine stereotypes but also challenges the common wisdom of the symbolic 'feminine.'"--Ploughshares "Stunning . . . It is this reeling dance with her reader that allows Sotelo's collection to move between low and highbrow subjects, to include poems about barbeques, Giorgio de Chirico, and Greek mythology and never lose speed. Without exception, Virgin is a must-read--and a delightfully gripping way to start poetry in 2018."--The Arkansas International "Analicia Sotelo's debut collection crosses time, place, real, and unreal to show us what it is to be heartbroken."--Kenyon Review "Analicia Sotelo's Virgin is a poetic dynamo. . . . Sotelo utilizes every word of every line of every poem so deftly that you'll go dizzy rereading them to figure out just how the hell she does it."--Glass Poetry "'We're all performing our bruises, ' says a speaker in Analicia Sotelo's brilliant book, Virgin, and that's exactly the kind of precise and wise and not-a-little-bit-hurting observations this book is made of. I suppose this book, too, then, s a performance of a kind of bruise, or bruising. But what I love is how, by leaning into the many registers of heartbreak, Sotelo makes something incredibly beautiful. Something that, in its beauty, is a kind of salve."--Ross Gay "In knowing intonations, the poems in Analicia Sotelo's Virgin betray those little fables that underpin the family dynamic and the duplicities that masquerade as decorum in society. 'I am a Mexican American fascinator, ' affirms this latter-day Ariadne who indulges, declines, and so abides as to transform the ceremonies of stranger and lover alike into the knowledge of hidden causes. These sly parables relate the length a 'female mind can go' to render acuity with charm in the face of disapproval or indifference: 'Now I have three heads: one/ for speech, one for sex, / and one for second guessing.'" --Roberto Tejada "Steeped in memory, legend, and dream, Virgin is a wildly brilliant book. In it, we follow the loves and lonelinesses of a 'Mexican American fascinator, ' who views the world around her with wit, candor, eloquence, and pain. Here family history, parable, and Greek myth combine into stories that, for all their daring, feel intimate and personal. A master of character and voice, Analicia Sotelo is a poet of enormous skill, and her first book is a pure pleasure."--Kevin Prufer "'Now I have three heads: one for speech, one for sex, / and one for second guessing.' It is this triad of speech, sex, and uncertainty that Analicia Sotelo intensely explores throughout Virgin. This debut collection brings us a poet self-aware, intensely observant of visual culture and social dynamics, knowledgeable about myth and process with a great understanding of craft. Virgin makes you look again at the power of the feminine and the necessity of feminism."--Patricia Spears Jones "Sometimes when we wrestle with the big questions we sacrifice humor and style. Not so with Sotelo. From her cold open onward, she burns--with sly wit, indignity, and sonic panache. 'Do You Speak Virgin?' asks the preface poem. And of course we do--or did, at some point--but this rhetorical question, and by extension this entire collection, will particularly resonate with women, for whom the question of virginity is particularly and historically fraught. Deliriously ruthless in its interrogation of the religious and sexual dynamics that shape us, Virgin is like a Victorian wedding gown beaded with canonical plunder and deconstructed by Frida Kahlo. Don't take your eyes off it."--Karyna McGlynn