Until We Are Level Again
by José Angel Araguz
Review from Latino Book Review
Review from Salmander Magazine

In his third collection, José Angel Araguz’s poems grope the walls of a dark room, looking for answers from a father who has been absent. The writing amplifies the ache of empty spaces, and delves into themes of culture, home, growth, reflections, and change. 

Anthony Frame, author of Where Wind Meets Wing (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018), applauds Until We Are Level Again: “This book is a soaring exploration of loss, of grief, of family – a stunning look at how the human condition is one of absence and of replacement and recreation. Tracking through the loss of a father, first to prison and then to death, these poems – and this poet – dig deep into the work of memorializing. Part Dickinson, part Whitman, and entirely himself, Araguz reminds us of the power of words, of language, to bridge the absences of time, to construct and deconstruct the walls of grief, to balance the human and the divine.” 

Robin Carstensen, author of In the Temple of Shining Mercy writes: “The poet challenges us to consider the ‘staggering’ impossibility of paying adequate tribute to the lives of our forebears and their shaping of who we are and who we become. How can language possibly achieve this necessary affirmation, yet this poet dares while offering particular reverence to the extraordinary figure of his mother ‘as front yard. . . face bright, steadfast/ as light through a threadbare sheet.’ The search for the lost self intensifies as the poet recognizes the word is always subservient to the body, to the flesh both absent and present.” 

Octavio Quintanilla, author of If I Go Missing, praises the author: “He writes poems that reveal private grief as much as they reveal the failure of language to express our deepest losses. Despite this recognition of failure, Araguz forges forth with the written word, and, in his hands, longing becomes another word for father, mother, love. Enter this house of poems and unbar its windows. Unlock its doors. See how the light of these delicate elegies cut deep into the marrow of memory. You will rejoice for being here, for having read them.

© Mongrel Empire Press 2014