Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut: PEN America Award Winner!

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(Book cover: Leigh McDonald)

Excerpt: Portrait as a Couple [México, Distrito Federal]

I love you like you are the only one. Between smog-soaked trees, city of vaseline side-steps, you tower over. A clean-shaved head, as close to tough as you will ever be. Behind me, the Mexican flag: colossal. Beneath: full metros shake, pyramids settle.
I am no virgin.

I’m the Aztec God of War.

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2018 PEN America Winner: Literary Prize in Poetry

Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut leaps into fresh literary territory, presenting colonization, privilege, and displacement as intimate, everyday occurrences—in the intimate spaces between sisters, lovers, and neighborhoods. Her poetic experimentation, inspired by modern art and immigrant struggles triumphs in the Latinx community, creates narratives that probe the concerns of the working class and queer people of color.

Vértiz’s poems ask us to see Los Angeles—and all cities like it—as they have always been: an America of code-switching and reinvention that replaces erasure with lyric and fight.

Praise for the book:

I want to dance in Vickie’s SoCal androgynities – her pixelated, hybrid Latinx Los Angeles
Cosmos, with its “factory imaginations,” its “Mexican or not,” its many lives rushing by and the “death stench” and the tiny rivers of tears into the tacos. A furious pace, a 1,000 degree eye, here Vértiz pours out her deep reflections, her erotic “garage” novelette, her low and high-rider journey into the various infernos and paradisos. A collage of breathlessness, a nirvana incandescent set of urban and personal illuminations. A ground-breaker, a Chicana world mural tumbling toward you fearlessly.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States

Indicating array and incision, Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, where the ones who are first, and last, come first. Their verbs survive, enduring violent spacing, constantly displacing song in having vividly been made to come, in form, as questions emphatically unenclosed, in love in brokenness, in the language of all languages, lit up as Los Angeles. On the way home, but always only on the way, Vickie Vértiz runs la vida down.

Fred Moten, author of The Little Edges and The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions)