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Cover for Migratory Sound

Migratory Sound

Poems (CantoMundo Poetry Series)

Sara Lupita Olivares


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Sara Lupita Olivares’s Migratory Sound, winner of the 2020 CantoMundo Poetry Prize, looks back to generational narratives of Mexican American migration, examining linguistic and geographic boundaries as it journeys north along routes of seasonal fieldwork and factory labor. “Whether enacting a bird migration, or the uprooting of people relocating north, or the private movement from sleep to alert vigilance,” series editors Carolina Ebeid and Carmen Giménez Smith observe, “Olivares’s stark poetry concerns the precarious idea of place and its underlying ‘unplace.’ She makes evident how every place bears a relationship with an elsewhere, an over there sometimes situated underneath.”

Praise For Migratory Sound: Poems (CantoMundo Poetry Series)

“This is a rare, evocative, and haunting book. For its sparse song of indwelling in landscapes of austerity; for its understanding of description as a function subordinate to wakefulness of mind, for its process of perception that splits the difference between animal and oblivion, habit and habitat, doubt and debt—I found myself returning again and again to its atmospheric method of knowing; to its structure of restraint and elegance.”
—Roberto Tejada, 2020 series judge and author of Still Nowhere in an Empty Vastness

Migratory Sound offers a new generation the rarity (in the company of Celan, Juarroz, and Valentine) of a poetry voiced in full presence, low volume. Over and over, Olivares gives form to trusting that intelligence is inseparable from sensoralities. There’s a fearlessness here, humility before the mysteries, and great love.”
—Kathleen Peirce, author of Vault

“If a figure is anything with a physical presence, Sara Lupita Olivares’s poems are a kind of figure study with an audio dimension: what do we see in our seeing, what do we hear (and what do we miss) in our listening? These are poems that undraw the outlines of shape and sound to perceive their astonishing essences.”
—Nancy Eimers, author of Oz

“Few debuts contain the sheer force that Sara Lupita Olivares achieves in Migratory Sound. From beginning to end, I was enthralled with the endless modes of engagement between the self and the landscape that challenge the legacies of the pastoral. The book is neither observation, nor event; neither artifact nor memory, but rather an innovative dialogue that deconstructs the role the landscape has historically played as a source of knowledge, beauty, resource, vision, and enlightenment. I recognize in Migratory Sound a deep respect for the sacredness of language, and Olivares fortuitously bears this burden and responsibility that any great poet assumes, despite the wreckage it might cause. Read this book and allow yourself to experience a lyricism that will haunt you.”
—Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Cenzontle

“I love the wakeful vigilance of these poems, how they teach me to feel and see anew. They arise out of the great silence that surrounds them, hewn from an interior meadow into luminous thought. What it is around them that is not said I cannot say, but the counterbalance there is looming and stunning. In Olivares’s deft hands, I am awakened to many things, as if secretly: the shifting field inside or outside the frame, the absent body language suggests, what is disappearing from view. In this way, these poems are deeply, quietly philosophical and political—an urgent call to attention and to care.”
—Eleni Sikelianos, author of What I Knew

University of Arkansas Press, 9781682261491, 94pp.

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

About the Author

Sara Lupita Olivares is the author of the chapbook Field Things (dancing girl press). Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Denver Quarterly, Salt Hill Journal, DIAGRAM, the Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of a PhD from Western Michigan University, she is assistant professor of English at New Mexico Highlands University.