“Tongues make mistakes / and mistakes / make languages.” And Benjamin Garcia makes a stunning debut with Thrown in the Throat. In a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times, Garcia writes boldly of citizenship, family, and Adam Rippon’s butt. Detailing a childhood spent undocumented, one speaker recalls nights when “because we cannot sleep / we dream with open eyes.” Garcia delves with both English and Spanish into how one survives a country’s long love affair with anti-immigrant cruelty. Rendering a family working to the very end to hold each other, he writes the kind of family you both survive and survive with.
With language that arrives equal parts regal and raucous, Thrown in the Throat shines brilliant with sweat and an iridescent voice. “Sometimes even a diamond was once alive” writes Garcia in a collection that National Poetry Series judge Kazim Ali says “has deadly superpowers.” And indeed these poems arrive to our hands through touch-me-nots and the slight cruelty of mothers, through closets both real and metaphorical. These are poems complex, unabashed, and needed as survival. Garcia’s debut is nothing less than exactly the ode our history and present and our future call for: brash and unmistakably alive.