American Cavewall Sonnets attempts to record the aftermath of a tragedy, to build an archive against a backdrop of erasure. The various unnamed speakers of these sonnets—the anonymous I’s, the anonymous eyes—grapple with fears that the things that wreck us daily could wreck us ultimately. C. T. Salazar reminds us that the narratives that survive aren’t by default the truth, and the means of their survival should be suspect as well.
“Poems of an America the world can see clearer, like holding the chambers of a crystal to sunlight, you will walk in here wholly astonished at the mysteries given and recovered. It is not the poet’s beautiful words; it is those mysteries of a world you once actually thought you held until now. ‘All the trees of the field will clap their hands.’ Here is a book everyone I know who loves poetry is going to jaw-drop with me!”—CA Conrad
“American Cavewall Sonnets is a collection that takes its reader through a personal history filled with a ‘darkness we hold but dare not / open.’ As the poet explains, ‘I have written here an index of things too beautiful to lose.’ These sonnets are full of desire to make things anew. This is a journey of rebirth where the poet becomes a ‘babel of tongues,’ a ‘bloom boy,’ even a ‘face painted the same hour of daybreak.’ If you read closely you might find a ‘map of heaven’ to help you along the way, but you’ll want to lose yourself in these poems because already ‘the world is rudderless.’ These poems are enthralling. Salazar’s sonnet form transgresses notions of love to counter cultural and religious expectations about expression and identity.”
“Every time I return to these poems I am arrested anew by a blazing image, a cutting epitaph. Because the speaker often directly addresses you, as a reader I feel active, compelled. When the speaker says, ‘If you ever feel swallowed, take my hand’ and promises ‘If the season / whittles us down, hallelujah our spines. / Praise our hollow bell bodies still ringing,’ I trust in his authority, his benediction, and I am eager to follow him anywhere.” —Emily Pérez, review at RHINO Poetry