104 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268202163 | February 2022
Hardcover | 9780268202156 | February 2022
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268202170 | February 2022
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268202149 | February 2022
Stepmotherland is a tour-de-force debut collection about coming of age, coming out, and coming to America.
Winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes’s first full-length collection, is filled with poems that chronicle and question identity, family, and allegiance. This Central American love song is in constant motion as it takes us on a lyrical and sometimes narrative journey from Panamá to the USA and beyond. The driving force behind Holnes’s work is a pursuit for a new home, and as he searches, he takes the reader on a wild ride through the most pressing political issues of our time and the most intimate and transformative personal experiences of his life. Exploring a complex range of emotions, this collection is a celebration of the discovery of America, the discovery of self, and the ways they may be one and the same.
Holnes’s poems experiment with macaronic language, literary forms, and prosody. In their inventiveness, they create a new tradition that blurs the borders between poetry, visual art, and dramatic text. The new legacy he creates is one with significant reverence for the past, which informs a central desire of immigrants and native-born citizens alike: the desire for a better life. Stepmotherland documents an artist’s evolution into manhood and heralds the arrival of a stunning new poetic voice.
Darrel Alejandro Holnes is an Afro-Panamanian American writer and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Poetry). His poems have previously appeared in the American Poetry Review, Poetry, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, and elsewhere. Holnes is a Cave Canem and CantoMundo fellow who has earned scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Postgraduate Writers Conference at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and residencies nationwide, including a residency at MacDowell. His poem "Praise Song for My Mutilated World" won the C. P. Cavafy Poetry Prize from Poetry International. He is an assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College, a senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he teaches creative writing and playwriting, and a faculty member of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.
"From narrative poems that sing, to lyrics that make of rhythm a spell, to moving portraits, to poems that go across borders and smash those borders, Stepmotherland is a splendid debut. I love its rhapsodic, incantatory music." —Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
"Stepmotherland is a procession of lines (lives), with one song facing forward and another facing back. It is a lyrical document that attends to the histories of touch out of which Holnes emerges, and so, in a language both lithe and live, the work teems with expanse and collapse, terror, tenderness, pleasure." —Aracelis Girmay, author of The Black Maria
"In Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes teaches us the complications of love, whether it comes in the form of romantic passion or unrequited patriotism. But this is also a view of the many permutations of manhood, all of its beauty and even its bruises—and sometimes under the makeup, we find both." —A. Van Jordan, author of The Cineaste
"Stepmotherland is the brilliant and vertiginous movement of a soul from the state of innocence to experience and a remarkable and groundbreaking collection. No one who reads these stunning poems is likely to remain unmoved or unchanged by them." —Lorna Goodison, author of Supplying Salt and Light and former Poet Laureate of Jamaica
“In Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes moves from bilingual lines to script-like dialogue to gorgeous subversions of form in his search for a language that can properly articulate what home is. . . . This book is a kind of coming of age into brilliance.” —Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Stepmotherland is a balm. The lyrics to a melody that has always played in our heads. Holnes gives us the heartbreaking and healing song. A stunning debut.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming and winner of the National Book Award
“Darrel Alejandro Holnes navigates the fraught politics of national, racial, and sexual identities with grace and wisdom beyond his years in order to locate that precarious but remarkable space that a queer Afro/Black-Latino immigrant from Panamá can call home. . . . What a unique, multivalent, and incredibly moving debut.” —Rigoberto González, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and author of The Book of Ruin
"In Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes meditates on migration and the American dream. This collection is a satisfying book that leaves us excited for all that is to come from this poet. Revolutions always happen on rainy days, he writes, and you are left wondering: what else will he teach me?" —Yesenia Montilla, author of The Pink Box and Muse Found in a Colonized Body
"Poet and playwright Holnes lights the page on fire with blazing lyrics in this crackling debut collection of poetry. Drawing on African, American, Panamanian, and Chocó heritages, Holnes cracks open the intersections between race, language, class, gender, and sex to create moving, multivalent poems that can be pithy and direct . . . but also brazenly breathtaking." —Booklist (Starred Review)
"An autobiographical odyssey from Panama to Texas, Darrel Alejandro Holnes’s poetry collection Stepmotherland ponders split identities through art, current events, and religion. Of African and Chocó descent, Holnes describes himself as 'Black but not black enough': a mixed-race background and queerness complicate his access to the American dream." —Foreword Reviews
"Stepmotherland is a collection that sings out the power of multilingual writing; as we see in 'Af•ri•can-A•mer•i•can•ize,' this is a poet 'becoming a force forever expanding the universe.'" —Harriet Books
"Holnes’s ecstatic debut transforms an immigrant’s dislocation into a newly discovered sense of belonging. Crossing borders and languages, these poems speak a truth about identity that’s more complex than mere labels can capture." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The term, stepmotherland, points to the lack of identity, belonging, and inclusion that the poet-speaker experiences in their native homeland and in the US. This identity problematic runs triple deep as a Black, Latin@, and (African) American in an adopted homeland that does not feel like home. Holnes beautifully accomplishes this through vivid imagery and a unique style that mixes poetic verse with poetic narrative often through a cinematographic lens and gaze." —The Latinx Project
"Holnes offers a critique of quotidian melancholy of the mestizo tyrannies of a Spanish-language América that force Black people into the margins, the prisons, or onto the soccer fields. Holnes is also calling attention to the poverty of imagination that plagues mestizo artists in their inability to exalt Blackness. " —Hayden's Ferry Review