Esteban Rodríguez’s debut collection explores the lives of the generations who have made their homes along the US-Mexico border, in a landscape too often neglected and forgotten. Read More
Set along the U.S.-Mexico border, Dusk & Dust introduces the voice of a “boy straddled on the valley of two geographies.” With a keen eye, gentle humor, and great empathy, Esteban Rodríguez’s debut collection explores the lives of the generations who have made their homes in a landscape too often neglected and forgotten. Like the region they portray—relentless, unsympathetic, singed with uncertainty—these poems are marked with a visceral beauty. The aroma of cattle mingles with steaming tamales, and carnival organs play behind telenovelas in this richly conjured and mercurial world. Through the eyes of his luchador mask, with a foot planted firmly on either side of the fence, the young speaker grapples with a host of cultural and familial expectations, a tenuous grasp on his family’s language, and his own burgeoning identity. Funny and poignant, Dusk & Dust lays out a labyrinth of cultural expectations, and, with a voice as clear as it is unique, illuminates a world that seeks to be remembered and lived.
Dusk & Dust begins with the building of a home, a metaphor from which the book unravels a lasting picture of a childhood along the US-Mexico border. The reader finds themselves in multiple vessels that can “act” as homes: barbershops, circus, flea-market, a body, a mouth, butcher shop, fields, taxidermy, etc. What belongs inside and what belongs outside these containers is constantly getting blurred. The range is huge, and as Esteban Rodriguez says, “the world can be reduced to the smallest space and the most uncomplicated people.” But there is nothing uncomplicated or simple about this beautiful important debut that instructs that “breaking something, anything, is the quickest way to make it ours." —Jose Javier Zamora, author of Unaccompanied
“In Dust & Dusk by Esteban Rodriguez, the ordinary and the astounding enrich and enlarge each other. These poems shimmer with surprising phrasing and dazzling figurative language. We encounter ‘pews of dirt’ and the month of June becomes a ‘fugitive outrunning spring’s custody.’ There’s emotional range, too. Sorrow and wonder, and all their synonyms, darken and illuminate the poems. Rodriguez is a gifted poet who has written an impressive and memorable book.” —Eduardo Corral, author of Slow Lightning
“A vivid and careful collection about growing up on the US-Mexico border, ‘straddled on the valley of two geographies,’ Esteban Rodriguez’s Dusk & Dust inhabits its own borderlands, the complicated space between ode and elegy.” —Carrie Fountain, author of Instant Winner