“Tongues make mistakes / and mistakes / make languages.” And Benjamin Garcia makes a stunning debut with Thrown in the Throat. In a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times, Garcia writes boldly of citizenship, family, and Adam Rippon’s butt. Detailing a childhood spent undocumented, one speaker recalls nights when “because we cannot sleep / we dream with open eyes.” Garcia delves with both English and Spanish into how one survives a country’s long love affair with anti-immigrant cruelty. Rendering a family working to the very end to hold each other, he writes the kind of family you both survive and survive with.
With language that arrives equal parts regal and raucous, Thrown in the Throat shines brilliant with sweat and an iridescent voice. “Sometimes even a diamond was once alive” writes Garcia in a collection that National Poetry Series judge Kazim Ali says “has deadly superpowers.” And indeed these poems arrive to our hands through touch-me-nots and the slight cruelty of mothers, through closets both real and metaphorical. These are poems complex, unabashed, and needed as survival. Garcia’s debut is nothing less than exactly the ode our history and present and our future call for: brash and unmistakably alive.
Review of THROWN IN THE THROAT by Kazim Ali, 2019 National Poetry Series Judge:
“Sometimes you find a book so good you wished to have written it. Better even than that is when you find a book you know you couldn’t have written, had neither the emotional resources nor technical approaches to have written. For me, Thrown in the Throat is such a book; it has deadly superpowers, upending all my old-school queer feelings of shame and belligerence. Instead it gloriously stakes new territory in queerness. Camp has always been on the other side of the coin from death, but in Benjamin Garcia’s debut, fierce life demands its due. These poems are heir to a lineage that might include Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Please Master’ or Mark Doty’s ‘Homo Will Not Inherit’ or Rebecca Byrkit’s ‘Whoa.’ Rather than any Grecian urn teaching a reader about truth and beauty, here we find the visceral and immediate energy of contemporary life. Here it is not the archaic torso, a ruin of the past, but the voluptuous kinetic power of Adam Rippon’s rear end in all its triple-axel glory that enjoins the reader to change their life. When a poet whose arsenal includes bliss, jouissance, and adulterated pleasure commands it, you better listen. Crown him, yes.”