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Machete

Poems

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Hardcover
$27.00 US
6.17"W x 8.66"H x 0.53"D  
On sale Oct 12, 2021 | 96 Pages | 978-0-593-31964-2
| Grades AP/IB
This fresh voice in American poetry wields lyric pleasure and well-honed insight.

“Dios aprieta, pero no ahorca” (“God squeezes, but He doesn't strangle”)—the epigraph of Machete—sets the stage for a powerful poet who summons a variety of ways to endure life when there’s an invisible hand at your throat. Tomás Morín hails from the coastal plains of Texas, and explores a world where identity and place shift like that ever-changing shore.

In these poems, culture crashes like waves and leaves behind Billie Holiday and the CIA, disco balls and Dante, the Bible and Jerry Maguire. They are long, lean, and dazzle in their telling: “Whiteface” is a list of instructions for people stopped by the police; “Duct Tape” lauds our domestic life from the point of view of the tape itself.

One part Groucho Marx, one part Job, Morín considers our obsession with suffering—”the pain in which we trust”—and finds that the best answer to our predicament is sometimes anger, sometimes laughter, but always via the keen line between them that may be the sharpest weapon we have.

“Perceptive . . . Asks readers to go beyond seeing the world at face value, offering vivid descriptions and cutting political critique . . . Playful and piercing, this impressive collection demonstrates a radical kind of empathy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Morín's writing uses the mundane details of everyday life . . . as a jumping-off point for creating fascinating and philosophical worlds.” —LitHub

© Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
TOMÁS Q. MORÍN is the author of the memoir Let Me Count the Ways, winner of the 2023 Vulgar Genius Nonfiction Award, as well as the poetry collections Patient Zero and A Larger Country. He is coeditor, with Mari L'Esperance, of the anthology Coming CloseForty Essays on Philip Levine and a translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. He teaches at Rice University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. Morín lives with his family in Texas. View titles by Tomás Q. Morín
I Sing the Body Aquatic


When I offer my sweaty hand in greeting
I can see the future. No matter how gently you squeeze, I know
when our hands meet you will crowd my crooked index and pinkie fingers
against their straight-as-an-arrow brothers
so that my hand looks more like a fin
than an appendage perfectly evolved
for tying shoelaces or wiping a tear
from the red face of the missionary
who rode his bicycle under the sun
all day to reach my porch.
When he takes my hand he won’t find hope
or brotherhood or whatever he’s looking for. Because I can see
the future at times like this
and because I have an unshakable faith in the law of averages, I know
when our hands embrace he’ll find
proof of natural selection
in the shape of my fingers, evolutionary
holdovers from an era of gills
when the earth was all aquarium
and some distant relative with sleepy eyes
and splayed fins who tired of being mocked by handsome carp said, To hell with it
"Morín's writing uses the mundane details of everyday life...as a jumping-off point for creating fascinating and philosophical worlds." LitHub

"[Morín’s] writing cuts to the core with electrifying force . . . A promising and powerful new voice in American poetry, the Texas native arrives with a revealing anthology about suffering, self-identity and the trivial occasions that tie one’s existence together . . . If you’re not a big fan of poetry, Machete will make you one." —Nicholas Addison Thomas, The Free Lance-Star

"In his new collection, Machete, Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool."Texas Standard

“Wonderfully intimate . . . Highlights Morín’s versatility as a poet who fuses both content and form . . . I would rush out to buy a copy of Machete just to have a poem like ‘Two Dolphins’ on hand. Not only was I captivated by the sheer beauty and dexterity of the poem but I was struck by how rare it is to come across poems about fatherhood . . . If Morín wields language like a machete, it’s to slash through ignorance, to clear a path for strollering his children onto a sidewalk, safe from traffic.” —Julie Poole, Texas Observer

“Perceptive . . . Asks readers to go beyond seeing the world at face value, offering vivid descriptions and cutting political critique . . . Playful and piercing, this impressive collection demonstrates a radical kind of empathy.” —Publishers Weekly

About

This fresh voice in American poetry wields lyric pleasure and well-honed insight.

“Dios aprieta, pero no ahorca” (“God squeezes, but He doesn't strangle”)—the epigraph of Machete—sets the stage for a powerful poet who summons a variety of ways to endure life when there’s an invisible hand at your throat. Tomás Morín hails from the coastal plains of Texas, and explores a world where identity and place shift like that ever-changing shore.

In these poems, culture crashes like waves and leaves behind Billie Holiday and the CIA, disco balls and Dante, the Bible and Jerry Maguire. They are long, lean, and dazzle in their telling: “Whiteface” is a list of instructions for people stopped by the police; “Duct Tape” lauds our domestic life from the point of view of the tape itself.

One part Groucho Marx, one part Job, Morín considers our obsession with suffering—”the pain in which we trust”—and finds that the best answer to our predicament is sometimes anger, sometimes laughter, but always via the keen line between them that may be the sharpest weapon we have.

“Perceptive . . . Asks readers to go beyond seeing the world at face value, offering vivid descriptions and cutting political critique . . . Playful and piercing, this impressive collection demonstrates a radical kind of empathy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Morín's writing uses the mundane details of everyday life . . . as a jumping-off point for creating fascinating and philosophical worlds.” —LitHub

Author

© Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
TOMÁS Q. MORÍN is the author of the memoir Let Me Count the Ways, winner of the 2023 Vulgar Genius Nonfiction Award, as well as the poetry collections Patient Zero and A Larger Country. He is coeditor, with Mari L'Esperance, of the anthology Coming CloseForty Essays on Philip Levine and a translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. He teaches at Rice University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. Morín lives with his family in Texas. View titles by Tomás Q. Morín

Excerpt

I Sing the Body Aquatic


When I offer my sweaty hand in greeting
I can see the future. No matter how gently you squeeze, I know
when our hands meet you will crowd my crooked index and pinkie fingers
against their straight-as-an-arrow brothers
so that my hand looks more like a fin
than an appendage perfectly evolved
for tying shoelaces or wiping a tear
from the red face of the missionary
who rode his bicycle under the sun
all day to reach my porch.
When he takes my hand he won’t find hope
or brotherhood or whatever he’s looking for. Because I can see
the future at times like this
and because I have an unshakable faith in the law of averages, I know
when our hands embrace he’ll find
proof of natural selection
in the shape of my fingers, evolutionary
holdovers from an era of gills
when the earth was all aquarium
and some distant relative with sleepy eyes
and splayed fins who tired of being mocked by handsome carp said, To hell with it

Praise

"Morín's writing uses the mundane details of everyday life...as a jumping-off point for creating fascinating and philosophical worlds." LitHub

"[Morín’s] writing cuts to the core with electrifying force . . . A promising and powerful new voice in American poetry, the Texas native arrives with a revealing anthology about suffering, self-identity and the trivial occasions that tie one’s existence together . . . If you’re not a big fan of poetry, Machete will make you one." —Nicholas Addison Thomas, The Free Lance-Star

"In his new collection, Machete, Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool."Texas Standard

“Wonderfully intimate . . . Highlights Morín’s versatility as a poet who fuses both content and form . . . I would rush out to buy a copy of Machete just to have a poem like ‘Two Dolphins’ on hand. Not only was I captivated by the sheer beauty and dexterity of the poem but I was struck by how rare it is to come across poems about fatherhood . . . If Morín wields language like a machete, it’s to slash through ignorance, to clear a path for strollering his children onto a sidewalk, safe from traffic.” —Julie Poole, Texas Observer

“Perceptive . . . Asks readers to go beyond seeing the world at face value, offering vivid descriptions and cutting political critique . . . Playful and piercing, this impressive collection demonstrates a radical kind of empathy.” —Publishers Weekly

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