Cover Image: I Always Carry My Bones

I Always Carry My Bones

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGally for letting me review this book.

This collection isn’t for me. I HOPED. WANTED. TRIED to love it or at least  enjoy it  I DIDN’T.

I did see some that catches my attention however it was just for a moment and I was ended up bored.  I didn’t care in any of it, I’m so sorry.
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I managed to connect to some parts of this book, but it wasn't much. Mostly, I enjoyed the lyrical quality of it: their rhythm was enchanting to me, very nice to read out loud.
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The language was incredibly rich. The arc of the poems felt rather solid, not a poem out of place, with a strong emotional axis, something I was not expecting from the name and the first few poems. The exploration of the trauma in brown bodies  is profoundly haunting, even if sometimes the language was a bit too obscure. It's been a while since I've been so invested in the twist of language of a book. Definitely worth a read, even beyond the crucial, urgent matters it deals with.
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I ALWAYS CARRY MY BONES is haunting, raw, and reflective. A collection of poems through the eyes of a person of color, the poetry itself reads like a fragmented memory, like a film reel, like a song--all of which speaks to parts of us that are hard to articulate. I do think some of the poems were rather unclear and perhaps sections weren't as cohesive as they could have been BUT that's how poetry is sometimes. It doesn't always look nice and neat; like life, it isn't always perfect and I felt this roughness to I ALWAYS CARRY MY BONES made it all the more compelling.
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The imagery in this collection of poems is incredible. It's an evocative and prescient work that blends the political and the personal seamlessly. Some of the poems read almost like a logic puzzle, and Zamora's use of language is incredible. Though it may not be a book I recommend to a beginning reader of poetry, it's certainly a rewarding read.
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Felicia Zamora writes verse that is infused with tradition, place, memory, and personal reflection. I Always Carry My Bones is human testimony and history in verse.
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Felicia Zamora’s ‘I Always Carry My Bones’, winner of the 2020 Iowa Poetry Prize, is composed of three parts: ‘In Breach of Etiquette’, ‘Weight of Indentation’, and ‘Where the Carriage of My Cells Catch’.

Zamora lived as a child with her white grandparents in Iowa. “It was a place where other people told me I was disgusting before I could discover myself.” It was here her grandfather said, “You’ll never amount to anything, you worthless little spic” as in her powerful poem, ‘Motel’, she thinks ‘ I had done/ something wrong to never/ warrant celebration”.

She uses her body, tissues, bloodstream, organs and cerebrum as a pivot through which she explores an estranged relationship to Mexican culture, the ethereal ache of an unknown father, the indentations of abuse, and a mind/physicality affected by doubt, these visceral, breathtaking poems rooted in the search for belonging.

As a Latinx woman historically invisible and derided within the United States, these astonishing poems speak to a long history of political injustice, systemic racism and oppression towards people of colour and migrant people. 

In poems she makes reference to the caging of immigrant children at the Texas-Mexico border as well as the drowning deaths of two Salvadoran border crossers found washed ashore on the banks of the Rio Grande River.

Her poetry  calls for collective action, immigrant’s rights, social justice and makes a claim for the sanctity of all humans.

In a letter to Oskar Pollack on 27 January 1904, Franz Kafka wrote: “A book must be the axe which smashes the frozen sea within us”. After sitting with the poems in ‘I Always Carry My Bones’ I feel hypothermic and submerged up to my neck in water.

Felicia Zamora is a poet, educator, and editor currently living in Ohio. She is the author of six books of poetry and an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Cincinnati and the associate poetry editor for Colorado Review.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This poetry collection wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't my style. I'm not a huge fan of prose type poetry, I love my line breaks. However, I did find many poems to be poignant and well crafted, and there were a few that stood out:

- Bodies & Water
- Motel
- Dear Coyote (the entire series of poems with this title)
- Prayer to Consciousness
- Veins & Ghosts & Other Circulatory Systems 
- Invisibly, Yours
- Beautiful Fault
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What a breathtaking collection of poems! These poems will remain a searing reflection of the years of the Tr*mp administration especially through the perspective of a person of color. What stood out most to me are the lines about the concentration camps (yes, I said what I said). Beautifully and painfully, Zamora's words bring recognition to the atrocity of parents being separated from their children at our borders. This is a must-read--- even if you aren't necessarily a poetry person.
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2.5 stars


This was like putting together a 10K piece puzzle.

I'm totally exhausting but I keep going because I KNOW the big picture. I’ve seen it myself (I’m Hispanic, I’m an immigrant, etc.) 

I keep going because I know it's important, relevant, and very valuable. 

I want to see it come together.

BUT it’s SO FRAGMENTED and the edges are so rough, it's very hard to get through it.

I hope not but I'm afraid that some readers who, unlike me, haven’t seen the big picture may be too confused by these fragments to foresee the reward.
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WOW. I am just so floored by this poetry book. This is a phenomenal poetry book. Like everyone needs to read this. 

I highlighted SO many lines and sections and entire POEMS from this book because I kept feeling my eyes widen and just kept feeling punched in the gut over and over. 

Language and words. Just wow. 

A smart, often brutal, collection of poems that I will absolutely reread and recommend to so many people.
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This collection spins around the axis of the body as metaphor and boundary. This takes place through four connected systems: the person, the person plus one, the political, and the natural world.

"Let's say your body's a caterpillar, an accordion in scooch / among branches"

Each of these poems reminds the reader that we are all separate, but connected. We share and inhabit the same, but separate, spaces. We breathe the breath of one another and move through the world shaped by our neighbor's bones and muscles. But, our body is our own and only sacrosanct space.

"After shuck & caw, light / slats between each vertebra, bone illuminate 

The shape of these poems varies. Some slam-like in reading, others more prose, and an occasional straight up story. There's a unique anatomy to the line breaks and the language. Occasionally this evokes the feeling of being small and vulnerable while a larger body envelopes you, blocking out full comprehension, the way a parent might shield you from tragedy.

"You turn / your chest from me & behind ribs I become / more hummingbird than human"

These poems felt like a grappling from a place of grounding within the only thing we truly know, within ourselves. Our bodies which hold so much memory. If these bones could talk, I suppose. And often, what's outside of our bodies is outside of our control, and this creates a tension. A vulnerability. A poem.

"If you draw a line in the sand, the surf swallows / what you have done; disobedient tide song"

And that tension is where we find ourselves and our agency.

"We call these passages, pupils."
"We call these passages, witness."

Thank you to NetGalley and University of Iowa Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I’m giving this poetry book 3 stars because I am recognizing here that it was simply not my style. The poems didn’t touch me or made me feel emotions and I found them to be maybe overly complicated at time. Very unfortunate. However someone else could absolutely find this book amazing!
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Thank you, NetGalley for this ARC.

This was not a nice or an easy read. I'm giving it three stars only because I can see that there is a difference of taste here. I just didn't like it.
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Okay, so I've realized I'm not a fan of weird books, and this work of poetry is definitely weird. Not in a bad way. It was kind of fun to read through and understand the science terminology as a science student, but other than that, I jus didn't love it. I think my favorite type of poetry is simple, lyrical, and more flowerly. This one was more brute and convoluted so it just didn't mesh with my reading taste. However, I do think other people might like it, so I'd still recommend you give it a shot.
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A strange thing about poetry is that you have to find the kind that suites your current emotions and mood. 
I am not certain if I read this story while in the wrong mood or if it was not for me. 
I did not connect with the writing and it was hard to make sense of the real reason or point made with most of the poems themselves.
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This was an interesting read. It took me some time to read this collection of poetry which really surprised. I definitely don’t think this is the type of book that should be read in one sitting. I loved that the poems were descriptive. The themes are Mexican culture, family, racism, and poverty. Some of the poems were incredibly powerful. 

Thank you NetGalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Whetted. Powerful. Searing. Indelible. Though not what I would consider easily digestible poetry, this collection foments. It awakens. It shoots a disembodied chorus of awareness across synapses as if it were lightning.

Employing both brutal metaphor and description, it knocked my head open with the blunt force of its themes, my eyes watering at every fractured punch of imagery that was bound up in eclogues of racial ideation or reality. I was unable to read this without feeling the thumb indentations of oppression, of abuse, against my windpipe.

This is poetry with a penetrative POW of meaning! Read it for yourself and see if it doesn't haunt, doesn't stoke. Be prepared for it to root deep, embedded, through your bones.

Thank you to NetGalley and University of Iowa Press for the ARC.
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I always carry my bones by Felicia Zamora, University of Iowa Press, 2021.  
	Insistence is not confirmation. Whatever one insists that poetry is, a poet like Felicia Zamora readily disconfirms. Like Dr. Joanna Lee, another poet of the body (in Dissections, 2017), who says that "poetry/ is always barefoot, even / over broken glass," Zamora breaks into definitions. She "breaches etiquette" meant to keep her out. Like Dr. Williams, laying out the great body of Paterson before dissecting it, she shows us her body, which is our body, which is our country: "heart of reeds, lung/ of dew, stomach of grasses, what dwells/ in land dwells in you," a well-known country—Whitman territory, where "all are part of the procession." But even language conspires to keep migrants out: "the oppressor's language has been pre-configured to defeat you—a language which does not give you the right to speak—certainly not to make poems." The Church Ladies do their good deeds with circumspection, looking for "something worthy to give/ a kid like me. Something almost broken / almost breathing." With Blakean leaps from sharp images of weathered bones, or the chrysalis of a migrant Monarch butterfly who wears "a belt of earthly stars in ornament," or the razors handed out "for one more go home wetback" to prophetic social criticism, Zamora insists on her own definitions. The exclusive constructs of language, the certainties of pseudoscience like craniometry, and the skeletal remains of careless research beneath the parking lots of Lee's medical school are "wounds of bodies made inferior with labels," whereas those very bodies proclaim how "our organs in skeletal structures connect us beyond your labels." A personal story and a national story, told in a rushing, fragmented style with words like expose, stun, sever, and relinquish suddenly becoming nouns in the way that countless daily cuts and gestures continually bring the migrant or outsider up short, this collection is also a celebration of a different kind of body politic—and of how to grow into it. "We all grow out of something," she says, thinking of doors slamming shut behind her; "thinking I had done something wrong to never warrant celebration," but confident that human beings can "unlearn rules, draw a map that starts in fluid of your lungs," and, instead of fearing all the other kinds of bodies, discover "awe in the limitlessness" of diversity. . #I always carry my bones #NetGalley
--Richard L. Rose   See  and   and  FB
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Thank you to Netgalley and University of Iowa Press for this ARc ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

This collection was moving and enlightening. I believe that I Always Carry My Bones needs to be added to any course that talks about immigration and colonialism, even if excerpts are used. This was incredible, and if I taught older students, I would find a way to incorporate this into my curriculum.
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