Filled with the nuanced beauty and complexity of the everyday—a pot of beans, a goat carcass, embroidered linens, a grandfather’s cancer—A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying journeys through the inherited fear of creation and destruction. The histories of South Texas and its people unfold in Laurie Ann Guerrero’s stirring language, including the dehumanization of men and its consequences on women and children. Guerrero’s tongue becomes a palpable border, occupying those liminal spaces that both unite and divide, inviting readers to consider that which is known and unknown: the body. Guerrero explores not just the right, but the ability to speak and fight for oneself, one's children, one's community—in poems that testify how, too often, we fail to see the power reflected in the mirror.
From the 2012 Award Citation for the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize:
“This is the poetry of both saints and sinners (and even murderers). The poet conjures up Pablo Neruda, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sylvia Plath, and is rooted in the best Latin American, Chicano/a, and contemporary American poetics, able to render an effective poetic version of Nepantla, the land where different traditions meet, according to Anzaldúa. These poems make the reader laugh, cry, cringe, lose one’s breath, and almost one’s mind, at times.” —Francisco X. Alarcón, judge
"Guerrero has always written pointedly with a sharp pen and a sharp knife always at the ready. In her first full-length collection, these dazzling, edgy, irascible poems lean into their sweet natural bristling air, stitching and stretching image to image. This is the singing blue glory of language at its best." —Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split, winner of The National Book Award
"Guerrero writes in a language of the body, visceral, almost unbearably vivid, the language of a poet who knows how to work with her hands. In an age when so many poems say nothing, these poems miss nothing . . . attention must be paid to such a poet now and for years to come." —Martín Espada, author of The Trouble Ball