What's most refreshing about this collection is that the women whose voices are rendered so beautifully here, not just the daughters and mothers but even Ariadne herself, shatter stereotypes of femininity and highlight truths that might discomfort but are a vivid testament to the world we live in today ... With candor and humor, Sotelo has given voice to women not often seen in the pages of American literature and has revealed in innovative ways the messiness that often characterizes relationships. Virgin heralds an important new voice in the world of poetry.
Sotelo’s poetry reveals the weight of desire, how our hearts drag our bodies ... Sotelo mines the Marian paradox with complexity, grace, and power ... Her narrators want more out of life, but they clench what they have—and draw us back to her pages. A significant debut.
Sotelo’s poems tend to blend together, partly thanks to her fondness for I-statements ... Paradoxically, self disappears behind self-reference, and 'I' has a blurring effect, as if we’re driving too fast through a landscape to take much in. But Sotelo’s best poems are also first person ... Slowing down, she relays experience without evasive disjunction or false coherence. Sotelo’s complicated ambivalence about men who 'still love girls, but rarely admit it' is disturbing and authentic.
'We were really getting down,' writes Analicia Sotelo in Virgin, 'dancing hard on the injury.' Sotelo’s poems do just that, with an insistent force that commands attention and dares readers to dance along ... Ultimately, Sotelo’s poems demand and perform necessary revisions of that definition, reclaiming the concept of femininity and revealing its inherent power ... One of the most powerful ways in which Sotelo shows us how far a female mind can go is through her adoption and reworking of Ariadne, the mythologized Cretan princess ... Virgin is the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, and it’s not difficult to see why. Sotelo’s poems are sure of themselves, firmly authoritative and unflinching.
Analicia Sotelo’s Virgin is stunning. Impeccably crafted and packed with sensual imagery ... The speaker – at times humorously self-deprecating, at times wielding controlled rage – is observer and interpreter ... Sotelo refuses to let her speakers off the hook, and they own up to their complicity. This evenhandedness of observation lends her poems an air of indisputability – as if they themselves are a new kind of mythology.
t feels odd to say that a book about heartbreak is surprising and fun, but it is fun to skip through the range of personas in this book, personas that give quick-paced monologues full of ranging images and tones ... The velocity of these short, enjambed lines might be dizzying if the images weren’t so concrete, the diction so simple ... It’s one thing to say that the speaker’s voice gives her subject an agility that’s entertaining to read. It’s another to say that the speed of these poems carries with it a meaning-making deeper than its surface pleasure ... I can feel the shadow meaning to the poem, Sotelo’s speaker looking directly at me.
In a series of poems that retell the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur from Ariadne’s perspective, Sotelo not only subverts feminine stereotypes but also challenges the common wisdom of the symbolic 'feminine' ... Sotelo’s poems not only shift the 'hero’s journey' to center on a woman but also attempt to un-gender the archetypal journey towards consciousness.
Sotelo’s first collection of poetry, Virgin, is the poetry of a Texas already transformed, free of masculine brooding. The Houston poet, who grew up in Laredo and San Antonio, is challenging deeply seated tropes ... Virgin is the poetry of a purple Texas, a confused metaphor for a color palette that is meant to indicate the browning of Texas, the growth of cities and the increasing visibility and centrality of women. This smart and timely collection shows that we are in many ways already living in that world transformed, with all its promises and problems.
This is a new voice for me and it’s a dazzling one. The book has major sections—taste; revelation; humiliation; pastoral; myth; parable; rest cure, all with an overlapping theme: male/female relationships. Others have written this, in fact everyone has, then how can it feel so new, so exciting, and so dangerous ... It’s rare to have a poet allow each line a special place and give it such a big life; for this writer makes words alive, surprising, with unintended consequences. She’s intuitive and has never outgrown the childhood ability to play, changing the dynamics of a gray world by instinct, daring and the totality of intelligence. I’m crazy about this poet. She’s deeply meaningful about human relationships and has the ability in this book to reframe poetry.
Despite the coyly turned woman on the cover, the first poem in this incisive collection is bold, baldly declaring ... Indeed, this is a collection that finds the wounds of childhood and new adulthood and presses on them ... there are echoes of Sylvia Plath in her odes to a hard and absent father, in her reflections on family history, and in her repeated explorations of the Minotaur myth. Brutal in execution but with a bitingly humorous undercurrent, this collection lays bare an image of femininity in our society.
Winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, this dazzling new collection from Sotelo... seems written with opal grit. The poet highlights female subjugation to male assumptions and desires ('I am beautiful in my harmlessness!') but offers considerable pushback ... A moving section of this book clarifies the influences of the poet’s artist father, who teaches her the meaning of art: 'This one is art. This is what art looks like.' She learned her lesson well.
...it is this reeling dance with her reader that allows Sotelo’s collection to move between low and highbrow subjects, to include poems about barbeques, Giorgio de Chirico, and Greek mythology and never lose speed. Without exception, Virgin is a must-read—and a delightfully gripping way to start poetry in 2018.
Sotelo explores the power of mythologizing personal history in her striking debut ... from the start Sotelo cultivates intimacy through moments of vulnerability ... The book is also replete with novel images ... With humanity and raw honesty, Sotelo finds fresh ways to approach romance, family, and more.
Sotelo understands how far a poem can go in terms of wit and imagery in a way that pushes the distance a reader’s mind can go to imagine new, brave territories fraught with attempts at loving and being loved ... Virgin is one out of the many the bright beacons representative of the current generation of Latina poets that are searing across this American, poetic landscape without stop. It’s an exciting time to be reading poetry when you’ve got poets like Analicia Sotelo.