Oil and Candle
Author: Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué
Publisher: Timeless, Infinite Light (2016)
Oil and Candle traces imagined rituals, failed rituals, and magical objects of Santería in confronting issues of race, warfare, and the precarity of Latino lives. Object-oriented, Oil and Candle localizes biographical, theoretical, and imagined content in a Limpias oil and an Abrecaminos prayer candle (or velón). It is as much a confrontation of racism in poetry as it is a torch-song to cultures inherited and not necessarily lived.
"Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué's poems, to borrow a phrase from Robert Hayden, are 'wild, patterned, and free.' The language is restless; it leaps and alights in surprising ways. A ghost calls on a landline and 'time/ opens its clouds.' Paradoxically, the non-linear unfolding of sense and music allows Ojeda-Sague to craft a vivid matrix of patterns: identity, rituals, queerness, citizenship, and war. At the heart of this matrix is a voice –discerning and serendipitous — that moves from intimate telling to a gorgeous torquing of syntax and line. The aesthetic freedom fueling Oil and Candle is exhilarating. All language is at play for Ojeda-Sague, which allows him to score the page with multiple tongues and registers. Oil and Candle is a remarkable and searing book. A must-read."
–Eduardo C. Corral
"'When I exist, / I am complicit.' Opening Oil and Candle I found myself poured into a whispering ceremonial basin. Ojeda-Sagué wields reverence and perceptivity like a sudden dusting of snow in a too warm winter. His honest rhythm, the posture of his questing will rip through you the way that a photograph develops in a darkroom."