Beast Meridian

Beast Meridian

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Author: Vanessa Angélica Villarreal 

Publisher: Noemi Press (2017)

Beast Meridian narrates the first-generation Mexican American girl, tracking the experiences of cultural displacement, the inheritance of generational trauma, sexist and racist violence, sexual assault, economic struggle, and institutional racism and sexism that disproportionately punishes brown girls in crisis. Narrated by a speaker in mourning marked as an at-risk juvenile, Beast Meridian follows a first-generation Mexican-American girl in crisis surviving the painful experiences of a racialized girlhood, cultural displacement, generational trauma, familial loss, economic struggle, and violence. In turn, this collection imagines a surreal state in which these damages may be recovered.

"Beast Meridian is a fierce incantation, harnessing the intuition and intelligence of personae navigating a 'melancholy galaxy' full of the violences of societies and families, in which the pain of the earth and the pain of the body are not separate. In languages of tenderness and weaponry, landscapes and bodyscapes, insight and foresight, talismanic memories and imaginings, Vanessa Angélica Villareal constructs layered complications to see newly into, or grieve not being able to look beyond. Far from surrender, the poems write toward a communal resilience: 'entre todas las mujeres we kneel to push away the final night'—a unity among wounded women, their collective mythology infused with necessary interrogations and radiant intensity, as they (and their words) 'spill & spill until we spread / like a flood."

–Khadijah Queen

"Vanessa Villareal's poems are alive, haired, precise and strange with ardor, with loss, with a remembering (live and lit!) born out of the crossroads of elegy and desire. With these poems I feel I have the rare and gorgeous chance to experience a formal invention built out of urgency, and with such intimacy. Here there is a diction, a music, knived and lucid. A body, or bodies, shapeshifting across pages, possessed and dispossessing, dying-birthing-getting born, simultaneously 'I' and 'we': 'your black cervix my first egg drop & / so we hatched myself—'. There is such a brilliance everywhere here."

–Aracelis Girmay

"In Beast Meridian, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal braids searing lyricism and intimate narratives into utterances and patterns that radicalize the heart and the eye. Rooted in the borderlands, Villarreal's language—scarred but alive—confronts and refutes the violence of erasure and assimilation. 'Every brutal abandoning' of the self and of the flesh is rigorously and intensely rendered. Line after line shimmers with grace and fury. Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is an innovative and necessary poet."

–Eduardo C. Corral