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Fetish

Fetish extends and recasts the themes of displacement and assimilation that I began to explore in Furia, my previous collection published by Milkweed in 2005. Diaspora has thus defined my family in complex and contradictory ways for more than five generations, beginning with our exile experience in Miami and my upbringing in Perú, then reaching back to ancestors who emigrated to Cuba in the 19th century. These are poems, whether in free verse or in traditional forms, that sew together stories of dislocation and loss, oppression and poverty, threadings of survival and hope, lives of work and faith seamed into a reverent wholeness I call the Américan tapestry, by which I mean all the Americas. These poems thereby immerse themselves in the cultures and histories of these varied places, including South Bend, Indiana, where I have found a sense of rootedness as a university professor and, more importantly, as a father. Therefore, fatherhood is an essential element of this collection, which I explore primarily through the sonnet form. Those about my father, for example, focus on the craft of upholstery, his primary occupation, and one that has influenced my own poetics. Other sonnets, in turn, delve into my own relationship as a father to my American-born son as well as to my adoptive daughter (born in Panamá), a beautiful, bright child who suffers from behavioral disorders.