cover image Promises of Gold

Promises of Gold

José Olivarez. Holt, $21.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-87849-6

In this moving second collection, Olivarez (Citizen Illegal) reflects on his Mexican identity through poems that explore platonic and romantic love, the joys of friendship and food, and the pain and loss at the heart of capitalist society. A “child of loss,” Olivarez still believes in a salvation made possible by relationships and feeling, a world where “my friends show up unannounced & always welcome.” Details grounded in the everyday world capture great fulfillment, such as “Hershey’s Kisses,” “hot Cheetos,” “ramen noodle days,” and tortillas “warmed on a comal.” “[M]aybe we could redefine kin,” Olivarez proposes, and these poems make a strong case for that redefinition, revealing how close bonds are an antidote to the world’s hardships. In one poem, the speaker details how their lover “kisses me on the cheek in a language/ that needs no translation.” The poet’s sensitive and insightful voice allows these stirring poems to successfully explore the forces acting on love in a complex world, and the unshakable promise of understanding and belonging. (Feb.)