“In Pity the Drowned Horses, Sheryl Luna carves out of the El Paso landscape the music of the borderlands where loss and acceptance converge. . . . Luna exquisitely captures—like no other poet before her—the ‘unsung positive capability/ of the desert’; her syntax—sometimes raw and edgy—creates a tableau where everything rushes toward ‘our wild need—all sweat, all shiver.’ The overall effect is simply mesmerizing.” —Robert VasquezPity the Drowned Horses is the winner of the first Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. This collection is about place and many of the poems in it are set in the desert southwest on the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. Sheryl Luna’s poems are also about family and home within the broader context of the border as both a bridge and a barrier. They deal with the bilingual and bicultural city and how a place is longed for and viewed very differently as the observer changes and experiences other cultures.
The first two sections of poems focus on home and family. They show that, despite poverty and geographical isolation, the border towns of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez are places of beauty and promise. The third section explores cultures: how anxiety over aesthetic judgments, values, and difference are negotiated. The final section is one of praise and recognition that despite differences we are all longing for faith and a place to call home.
ANNOUNCING A NEW SERIES:
The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, named after the late California native and author of the award-winning book The Iceworker Sings, supports the work of emerging Latino/a poets and has as its goal to nurture the various paths that Latino poetry is taking in the twenty-first century. The prize is awarded every other year by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame for an original poetry collection by a Latino/a poet who has yet to publish a book.
“In her opening poem, Luna declares that ‘pain is living and living is pain,’ but while she relentlessly probes the hardscrabble lives of many of America’s Latinos, these poems aren’t grim reading. They’re transfigured by this debut author’s extraordinary lyric power.” — Library Journal
“[A] heartfelt testimony from the borderlands, the place where music clanks like chains as history simultaneously crumbles and rebuilds itself, where weary dancers laugh anger away. . . . a triumphant debut and worthy of keeping company with the classic titles of border literature. Luna proves herself a leader among the next generation of Chicano poets.” — El Paso Times
“There’s a weighty mournfulness to Luna’s borderlands, where the stark poverty of Mexico butts against the brash, unyielding sprawl of her American city. Pity the Drowned Horses takes its reader across a ravaged landscape where . . . the last few hares sprint across a bloodied/highway and there are women everywhere/who have half-lost their souls/in sewing needles and vacuum-cleaner parts. In this world of little comfort, Luna is intent on seeking meaning—however bitter—in the emptiness and meditating on the redeeming power of language.” — The Texas Observer
“Sheryl Luna’s debut collection, Pity the Drowned Horses, poses several questions about the meaning of ‘home’: is it rooted to a particular place? can we escape it? can we find it elsewhere? once we’ve left, can we return? . . . She circles through various locales and landscapes, including San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Prague, and Paris, but like the frayed-wing hawk who drifts through the collection, Luna’s speaker is drawn, slightly battered, back to the desert of her origins.” — Latino Poetry Review
Winner of the 2004 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize