Author: José Felipe Alvergue
Publisher: Omnidawn (2017)
The border is a policed realm, neoliberal market, an affective landscape of spectral echoes, a geography of traces. The death of a girl, a crossing narrative, media static of late-century rhetoric on border bodies, precis involves poetry in mapping the Mexico/US border and its relationship to America, while resisting the urge to impose definitiveness. precis simply asks: What about the body? What about the personal and the communal? The reader is asked to follow along without forgetting that overshadowed in every moment of the known, every authorization of what is, there is a print or silence asking what should also be.
"precis a forensic report and an austere memorial to lives forever perishing into the fractures of national asymmetries. In the political forgetting, interpretive failures, and the uneven arenas of aspiration that tear human flesh asunder, metal bars sprout as from the skin and sand. Even from factory wastelands and shallow graves, Alvergue composes a poetic score whose music and visual arrangement turn the language of policy and pages from the press into ambient sounds for lyric episodes that confer prowess to a body poised for “bending calculating / distancing / streets measure pacing.' The ghosts of this particular place—the Tijuana-San Diego border—leave diagrams in the landscape that speak in this poem to the present choreographies of survival."
"precis is both an expanded and emended version of José Felipe Alvergue’s underexposed 2008 book, us look up/there red dwells. Centered on the accidental, if all too predictable, death of a young girl, killed by a drunk driver (and posthumously found guilty of jaywalking) in the small town of Sidro. precis redacts some of the sections in us look up explicitly concerned with the dialectics among indigenous, Spanish and English discourses for a more explicit cultural poetics of recent USA and Mexican histories. Specifically, the book features a new middle section where two readings, two histories, of 'development' along the USA/Mexican border collide as a palimpsest: former California governor Pete Wilson’s speech on immigration, immigrants and labor is overwritten by Alvergue’s disjunctive meditations on the precariat, borders, fences, topography, surveillance, etc., the ideological and material 'weight' brought to bear on brown bodies. Concluding with a politically charged explication of the book’s making and its attempt to write back to empire, precis errs on the side of the human, reinscribing with a vengeance what, and who, are always under erasure."–Tyrone Williams