Here, we glide from Frank Ocean to 80s synthpop, from Half Moon Bay to Athens, from Oscar De La Hoya to Wolverine. This is a collection about navigating multiple worlds, about traversing from boyhood into manhood. In poems that crackle with “scorpions in the dark” and “Lauryn Hill’s voodoo” and “fat / Adidas laces and barbershop fades,” Chazaro explores what it means to curate a sense of self as a millennial first-generation California Chicanx writer. His speakers are driven by a desire to control their identity in a world where they haven’t been able to control much else—as the children of immigrants, as the occupants of ever-shifting spaces, as bodies that belong and don’t belong.
Structured like a rap mixtape, each poem on the “track list” is an ode to some vibration of memory, sound, or Chazaro’s native Bay Area landscape. THIS IS NOT A FRANK OCEAN COVER ALBUM, just as we are not ever actually ourselves—but a collection of fragments from our component influences and cultures, a reflection of the choices we make in search of a more genuine self.
“Listen: This book is so good it makes me want to curse. Better still: it makes me want to go write. Alan Chazaro’s THIS IS NOT A FRANK OCEAN COVER ALBUM is full of neon imagery—a blunt passed around like ‘just-born stars,’ an apartment full of men watching boxing as an armpit. Chazaro’s lyric is expansive; his music is tight. Nod your head & find yourself going back to each poem to trace its wisdom like a kid hitting rewind on a Walkman to hear their favorite punch line over and over. Chazaro’s poems explore masculinity & machismo with tenderness, they define & redefine ideas of home, and they shout out the Bay Area with love & precision.”—José Olivarez