Poetry News

New Review of Nepantla: An Anthology at The Rumpus

By Harriet Staff
Nepantla, An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, cover

Torrin A. Greathouse reviews the "historical anthology" Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer People of Color (Nightboat, 2018), edited by Christopher Soto, for The Rumpus. "The collection draws its title from a Gloria Anzaldúa quote, 'Bridges span liminal (threshold) spaces between worlds, spaces I call nepantla, a Nahuatl word meaning tierra entre medio,' or the land in-between," writes Greathouse. More:

In the introduction, Soto describes nepantla as “a transient feeling” at the meeting place of Queer and PoC identity. Spanning one hundred years, from the Harlem Renaissance to now, Nepantla is an archive of QTPoC memory that resists both the whiteness of mainstream LGBTQ+ movements and the notion of cistheteronormativity in PoC communities. Fundamentally, it is an act of history-making in verse.

Nepantla’s poets write on a broad spectrum of topics, from police violence and mass incarceration to the medicalization of queerness, from reconciling identity with community values to the beauty of another queer body. These pieces also capture an incredible range of emotion, sometimes within a single piece. Emanuel Xavier’s “Step Father” traces the poet’s complex relationship with the titular stepfather and the layers of grief, guilt, anger, and reconciliation within it. The poem is one of misplaced memories and unresolved conflict which opens: “He forgets that he used to call me mariconcito- / that I harbored years of hatred toward him,” but by the final lines has discarded this animosity to say “I forgive him. There is a place somewhere where / he will call me hijo and I will know him as my dad.”

Throughout, Nepantla resists utilizing chronology to compose its archive and also eschews the more traditional alphabetical order that many anthologies favor. Instead, Soto chooses to curate the poems, organizing them through interconnected themes and aesthetics...

Read the full review at The Rumpus.