Using both lyrical and narrative forms, these concise verses explore a family history set against the larger backdrop of Mexican history, immigration, and landscapes of the Southwest. The poet's
delicate touch lends these poems an organic quality that allows her to address both the personal and the political with equal grace. Straightforward without being simplistic or reductive, these poems
manage to be intimate without seeming self-important.
Fierce and finely crafted, Candelaria's
is a dazzling debut.
—El Paso Times
I am amazed at the poetic reach and depth of Xochiquetzal's work. A kind of magical power glows—a mind-burning new direction in Latina and Latino poetry.
—Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Half of the World in Light
Empire is a sensuous and lucid meditation on lineage, from the haunting and mythic narratives of her ancestry to her tautly drawn memories of growing up in California. It is a book of tender and deeply imagined songs. I cannot recommend it enough.
—Cathy Park Hong, author of Translating Mo'um
This distinctive collection ranges from the frighteningly whimsical image of Cortés dancing gleefully around a cannon to the haunting
and poignant discovery of a dead refugee boy seemingly buried within the poet herself. The blending of styles works to blur the lines between subjects, creating a textured narrative full of both
imagination and nuance.
Ultimately, Empire situates individual experience in the wider social context, highlighting the power of poetry as song, performance, testimony, and witness.
Addressing themes such as war, family, poverty, gender, race, and migration, Candelaria gives us a dialogue between historical and personal narratives, as well as discreet "conversations" between
content and form.