Citizen Illegal by Josẽ Olivarez

Citizen Illegal

In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of lif...

Details Citizen Illegal

TitleCitizen Illegal
Release DateSep 4th, 2018
PublisherHaymarket Books
GenrePoetry, Race

Reviews Citizen Illegal

  • Anna || hayinas7
    Citizen Illegal is a beautiful piece of artwork. This collection of poetry explores what it means to be a first-generation Mexican-American. José paints a vivid portrait of family, love, gender, class, immigration and traditions of Latinx. Highly recommend.
  • Kathleen
    My review for the Chicago Tribune: word “ode” gets thrown around a lot in relation to poetry, so it’s worth taking a look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of the term: “a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying length of line, and complexity of stanza forms.” A cross-check with the Poetry Foundation adds that an ode is “a formal, often ceremonious lyric poem th...
  • Nahid Soltanzadeh
    I just finished this book in one sitting and I'm in awe. I learned more than I have ever learned from a poetry book, in terms of both craft & content. Like, if we each had an empathy score for the lives we haven't lived but have listened to, mine just sky-rocketed.
  • M
    This was fantastic. I couldn't put it down--i laughed out loud several times. Olivarez had me swinging between feeling good, sad, and with righteous injustice over the course of a few lines. Then repeat. And repeat again. Haymarket Books has brought me back to poetry.
  • Violet Muhle Bruce
    Just beautiful. This poetry is so real and vibrant and honest that it left me speechless. The way this book has so many of my favorite types of poetry is truly incredible. I believe there is something for everyone in this book, take a couple hours out of your day and read it.
  • Karin Salisbury
    Such a powerful, honest voice. I continue to revisit various poems, each one packed with intensity, thoughtfulness, love, and raw dignity.
  • Ricardo
    Though I’ve read a fair amount of poetry before, I still feel quite new to it all when I take on reading a new collection. I think with "Citizen Illegal" I’ve finally begun to realize the incredible precision and thought it takes to tell stories in just a span of a few lines. I found much of what Olivarez wrote about to be relatable which made me love his work all the more. One piece that stood out to me was his poem “Mexican American Obitu...
  • Leah Rachel
    Citizen Illegal by Joé Olivarez is a poetry collection that builds on its own power, getting better as it goes on. Not all of the poems throughout had the same level of impact, but as a collection, it builds the foundation until Part V is a storm, crackling and booming with the weight of the emotions that we’ve been slowly raising throughout. “I Loved the World So I Married It” brought me to tears (“music, even on the day my grandma died...
  • CCtheBrave
    I read this entire poetry collection in one day. I couldn't put it down. Olivarez beautifully captures the cultural-in-between of being Chicano, and he does so without being stuffy or overly romantic. I earmarked almost every other poem in this collection because the writing is honest, humorous and accessible. As a Chicana poet, I'm always on the hunt for poetry collections and authors who delve into the push and pull of immigrant experiences sim...
  • Kimberley
    Thank you to Edelweiss+ for this advanced eGalley of “Citizen Illegal”.José Olivarez lets you into his world: its pain, its contradictions, and its frustrations. As a Mexican-American his experience is not unlike those whose mixed ethnicity makes it difficult to figure out which “box to tick”: He’s a man with a cultural stake in two worlds—born of Mexican ancestry, but able to claim American citizenship. To identify too closely with ...
  • Kent Winward
    The poems were timely politically and accessible, but the universality of the poet's life started to feel like every poet who consistently hits the local open mics: conflicts with parents, conflicts and heartbreak with love interests, concern over where one fits in, cultural and family pressures, etc. All of those were fine, but I wanted something a little bit more, whether more musicality in the words and rhythm or more contradictions within the...
  • Kandace
    As a Chicana this collection changed my life. The tension between the sorrow and joys of Mexican experience in the contemporary US are expressed in a variety of ways through a beautiful collection of poems. The revisioning of Mexican Heaven through several versions of the poem were a particular joy. I was left in tears and with warmth in my heart and the title poem will leave you with more questions and a further desire to keep reading.
  • Mike
    I’ve loved José Olivarez’s work for a while and have been very excited to see his debut collection. It didn’t disappoint. Many of these poems I’d read before, and I loved them all over again. The new ones are sure to become new faves. I love how this book encompasses both fire and tenderness, poems about race and place, but also about love in many forms. Such a great read.
  • Karla Strand
    Brilliant. Loving the BreakBeat Poets series so much.
  • David
    Read these poems by @_joseolivarez and take the punch. Be indicted and accept it. Come and meet him in October @oakparklibrary.
  • Miles
    Fingers crossed for the manifestation of what I hope will be a much longer review in the near future, but let me just say: you really should read this book of poems when it comes out in September.
  • Mark Pinkerton
    A fresh voice, and worth reading. I recommend this book, and this poet. It's not my heritage, and that's all the more reason to read it.
  • Angie
    Read my review of the book here:
  • krystal
    I just inhaled this book in one sitting. I’m typing this from the bookstore because I haven’t even left yet. It’s perfect. I loved it. I hope you do too.