Beacon Press: For Want of Water
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For Want of Water

and other poems

Author: Sasha Pimentel   Foreword by: Gregory Pardlo

Searing verses set on the Mexican border about war and addiction, love and sexual violence, grief and loss, from an American Book Award–winning author.  Selected by Gregory Pardlo as winner of the National Poetry Series.
El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States, while across the river, Ciudad Juárez suffers a history of femicides and a horrific drug war. Witnessing this, a Filipina’s life unravels as she tries to love an addict, the murders growing just a city—but the breadth of a country—away. This collection weaves the personal with recent history, the domestic with the tragic, asking how much “a body will hold,” reaching from the border to the poet’s own Philippines. These poems thirst in the desert, want for water, searching the brutal and tender territories between bodies, families, and nations.
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“In this urgent and lyrically astute new compilation, Philippines-born Pimentel, winner of the American Book Award for Insides She Swallowed, writes about the huge divide between El Paso, TX, and murder-slicked, drug war-ravaged Juarez directly across the Rio Grande....Affecting and well wrought; Pimentel is a poet to watch.”
Library Journal

“In For Want of Water, Sasha Pimentel threads the complex and intricate geographies of lives across borders: Wyoming, Montparnasse, Saudi Arabia, Ilocos, Manila, but primarily El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, where there have been more than forty-eight thousand documented fatalities and more than five thousand disappeared in relation to the drug trade. With an unstinting eye, Pimentel gathers in this book the disembodied, the lost and unhomed, the migrants at the border, the ones holding meth in their palms like ‘crystal glittering,’ the ones in the throes of withdrawal, border officials building electric walls, prisoners made to take off their clothes, the dead who have been machine-gunned at drug rehabilitation centers. In poems lit with premonition, though the maternal body is a ‘womb of cold tile’ and itself a map of previous domestication and violence, it is to the image of mother that the poet continually turns, because she was that first tensing bird or goat hoof rustle ‘above mud, before harm.’ As in the story of the boy who winds up dragging his dehydrated mother’s body across the desert, what Pimentel enacts in these harrowing but beautiful poems is the persistence of longing—how even in our most separate, divided, complicit, guarded existences, we’ll push toward that uneven line, that verge at the horizon where clouds promise to deliver rain like an absolution. The crossings Pimentel speaks of are perilous, but I am glad to have her as a guide, because she has the capacity for finding the smallest lights in the incinerated cities, shining through glass or the throats of pipes.”
—Luisa A. Igloria, author of Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser

“Sasha Pimentel writes evocatively of our irksome obsession—the Mexican border as riddled, tempestuous demarcation between faith and melancholy, expectation and despondency, shadow and glow. El Paso and Ciudad Juárez cling to opposite sides of a hellish boundary—and the poet crafts an existence emboldened by that fracture, trumpeting the triumphs and hazards of a love that defies its ragged edict. No other poet has dared this landscape with such a deft and intrepid touch, conjuring an expansive, revelatory and indispensable read. Nothing—nothing—in these pages has been done before.”
—Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art

For Want of Water

ISBN: 978-080702785-1
Publication Date: 10/17/2017
Size: x Inches (US)
Price:  $16.00
Format: Paperback
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: October 2017
(Backorder policy)