by Brian Dunlap
Los Ángeles/Bell Garden’s Native Vickie Vertiz will be releasing her second book of poems Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, next month (September). The Amazon jacket copy describes Vertiz’s book as a collection that “uses both humor and sincerity to capture moments in time with a sense of compassion for the hard choices we must make to survive. Vértiz’s poetry shows how history, oppression, and resistance don’t just refer to big events or movements; they play out in our everyday lives, in the intimate spaces of family, sex, and neighborhood. 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, of lyric and fight.”
This collection is already garnering positive press. The following is from the Library Journal:
“‘Come closer, chula// There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.’ These beckoning lines, ending a poem set on a city bus, capture the intimacy and disturbing undercurrent that typify Vértiz’s fine second collection (after Swallows). Vértiz portrays her Los Angeles neighborhood with verve and what might be described as fond anger. We see poverty (‘the death stench in our water in our jobs’) and fractured families. In one poem, ‘Dad’s paychecks couldn’t feed two houses,’ which explains why the pet rabbits end up as soup, and elsewhere a postcard from pops says, ‘I wish you were here, mija/ Come on, don’t get all feelings on me/ I may be drunk/ But at least I’m home.’ The uncle delivering an unexpected kiss, teenagers in tight black jeans, the “pleyboy” boyfriend who proved ‘a hard climb/ A home to mispronounce’ (‘Fuck that, said my brother, There’s other fools to love’), a mother and brother signifying ‘ten thousand truck miles (‘Why won’t/ their coughs go away?’)—these make up a chamber opera that Vértiz vivifies with jangle and sparkle. VERDICT Fervent reading about the urban Hispanic experience; for all readers.”
Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in Bell Gardens. Her writing explores the intersections of feminism, class, and Latino sub-cultures through everyday beauty. Her writing is widely anthologized, found in publications such as Open the Door (from McSweeney’s and The Poetry Foundation). Her poetry collection, Swallows was released in 2013 by Finishing Line Press.