MEMORY / GHOSTS
Lambda Literary 2020 Finalist
Release Date: February 15, 2019
#RECURRENT / Civil Coping Mechanisms
what remembering does to a body: an invented history
(the other house) is a book, a poem, a book of poems, that is also ghost document and prenatal correspondence. It was written as the author read through the draft of a manuscript for The Yellow House, by her friend, the poet Chiwan Choi. Ghost because it is a letter of the dead to the dead, but prenatal because the manuscript it addresses hadn’t been published yet. Her notes and questions eventually became a conversation with the text itself, with the speaker of the poems, with no one in particular, with the dead, with old lovers, with her own work, and with the author herself. This book is a response, a map, a thread of hauntings, a reconstructed memory of loss and the body, language and desire.
(the other house) is a spell to re-member and re-write maps and home(s). This book is an incantation–a wish fulfilled from “wanting […] when you are raised in drought.” Carlos is a woman who is trucha before she can walk, who “in obedience” her “brow becomes a valley” through which agaves dot hillsides and we find ourselves in neighborhoods where our homes may be aflame. The speaker observes incisvie angustias for many working-class, women, and people of color: that sometimes “we are so quiet and so clean/ we are so silent we are not even/ here” but in that quiet is a girl, threading together lands that burn, where a “mother sews me with bright veins/ my father hides a compass under my tongue [..] the map of our steps.” To find ourselves, Rocío Carlos shines a light: “look in a mirror to find your way home.”
–Vickie Vértiz, author of Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut
Rocío Carlos is a lyrical spellcaster, who summons a hidden cartography, “a map with the legend missing.” Words are spun, sung, ignited, bruised, and broken, naming and renaming what it means to feel “foreign too/foreign to.” This is a book of ghosts, of memories, of inheritances passed through bodies, across generations, and it is also a breathtaking record of longing, of a desire to heal through language, while carrying the responsibilities of many tongues.
– Jenny Johnson, author of In Full Velvet
(the other house) is less a blueprint and more of a map, a legend, and a history of a home assembled piece by piece from a language made from mismatched tongues. Carlos refuses convention at every turn. She takes your rigid expectations and returns them as polished stones. With Carlos, the shortest distance between two points is never a straight line. This book reminds me of everything I love about poetry.
– Joseph Rios, author of Shadowboxing: poems & impersonations
ROCÍO CARLOS attends from the land of the chaparral. Born and raised in Los Ángeles, she is widely acknowledged to have zero short term memory but know the names of trees. Her other books include Attendance (The Operating System) and A Universal History of Infamy: Those of This America (LACMA/Golden Spike Press). She was selected as a 2003 Pen Center “Emerging Voices” fellow. She collaborates as a partner at Wirecutter Collective and is a teacher of the language arts. Her favorite trees are the olmo (elm) and aliso (sycamore).