Sapello Son & The Gleaming of the Blade


Editors’ Selection Bundle: Buy Sapello Son by Alejandro Lucero (Editors’ Selection from the 2022 Frost Place Chapbook Competition) and get The Gleaming of the Blade by Christian J. Collier (Editors’ Selection from the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition) for just a buck with this bundle!

ships June 11, 2024

ISBNs: 978-1-949344-51-6 and 978-1-949344-47-9
Softcovers, 42 pages and 32 pages



Fields of alfalfa turned into tufts of fire hazard from drought. The walls of a cold mobile home. A cut straw, stained ballcap, dirty carpets. These are the images that haunt Sapello Son, Alejandro Lucero’s lyric rekindling of a childhood in New Mexico and the landscape that consumed his parents. Lucero’s familiarity with the razor’s edge of choices foisted on those at the fringes keeps us teetering between profound devotion to family and sober recognition of the ways some families fail. Like its namesake, Sapello Son avoids sentimentality and refuses sympathy, asking us to reckon with the only things we’re born with: a place, a family, and a name.

Formally dynamic and audacious, the poems in Alejandro Lucero’s Sapello Son sprawl like the New Mexico landscape they inhabit— across memory, family, and the complexities of the body. In these poems, a mother sags “like a melting / candle” and an asteroid burns across the “cracked leather sky.” Here we have a poet of remarkable perception: his words unreel difficult notions of grief, masculinity, and addiction with reverence and risk.
—ALDO AMPARÁN, author of Brother Sleep

In Alejandro Lucero’s blistering collection Sapello Son we find a young man longing for connection. “My family together in one room,” he reveals, “I asked for warmth I could never gather.” Within the masterfully crafted interior spaces of home and the exterior landscapes of Sapello, New Mexico, I was overcome by the dual forces of addiction and natural disaster. Inside: “between the bathroom walls a cut straw plugged Mom’s nose.” Outside: a “wildfire smoked in oak-fueled flames” consumes most everything else. Even within that devastation the poems don’t suggest escapism from the places that have made us and unmade us, or with the family that has rooted us and left us unrooted. Instead, this stunning debut offers a “wild strumming [on] brittle cords,” a heart-rendering music however faint of a son’s hope for reconciliation.
—ÁNGEL GARCÍA, author of Teeth Never Sleep

From its opening pages, Alejandro Lucero’s Sapello Son shows us how our pasts orbit us, untouchable, burning and comet-bright. With poems so perfectly rendered at times I thought I was remembering instead of reading, Lucero charts addiction, poverty, grief, beauty, and so much more. Hammer to gong, these poems are irrefutable in the way they will shatter you, in how, when you read them, everything else falls away.
—TODD DILLARD, author of Ways We Vanish

Alejandro Lucero is a writer from Sapello, New Mexico. A 2022 June Fellow at the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets, and former editor for Copper Nickel, his work can be found in publications such as The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, The Cincinnati Review, The Florida Review, The Offing, and The Southern Review. He lives in Baltimore, where he is an MFA student in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an assistant editor for The Hopkins Review.

Christian J. Collier’s poems of witness have the kind of keen insight that slices to the heart of the subject. The Gleaming of the Blade examines Black masculinity in the contemporary American South, alongside the lingering ghosts of the past, and how it feels to be Black in a country whose divisions and struggles could signal the end of civilization. These poems never shy away, interrogating harsh injustices and contending with the truth of today’s America, a truth sometimes beautiful, sometimes biting.

“‘What did not kill me, / I now belong to’ writes Christian J. Collier in The Gleaming of the Blade, and there are perhaps no better words for describing what it means to survive the South as Black and male, fetishized and rejected, loathed and loved. These poems describe coming of age in towns owned by racist fathers, policemen whose undischarged guns haunt one’s waking dreams, and women who make promises to their Black lovers that white privilege won’t let them keep. There is pain here, but also hope. There are ugly truths to be looked squarely in the ‘blue brooks’ of the eyes, but also beauty. And there are people who never make it out alive, who die by the hands of supremacy, white rage, and the police state, but there is also the voice of a poet, rising above the din of it all with a song.”
—Destiny O. Birdsong

“These poems are haunted by vanished gods, broken relationships, and the bodies of too many lives taken too soon, buried in Christian J. Collier’s brain. Family names take the form of bloody creeks. Lies are told to save a lover. Yet there is so much life here as well. The dubious privilege of living through it all is to be able to talk about it on the other side, and this collection of poems does so beautifully.”
—Bao Phi

“Christian J. Collier’s The Gleaming of the Blade is a victorious examination of the daily joys and pains of Black life and love. Collier’s vision is unflinching, his refusal to look away from what harms us, the first triumph of this fine work, both testimony and provocation. ‘I live // within a wound no one else can see,’ the poet writes, though, under his spell, we hear and feel that wound in these trenchant, resounding poems, so irrefutably we understand it to be ours, too. I was devastated by this chapbook and, at once, overjoyed—to find in Collier a new voice I will be listening to, I already know, for some time.”
—Charif Shanahan

Christian J. Collier is a Black, Southern writer, arts organizer, and teaching artist who resides in Chattanooga, TN. He is the author of Greater Ghost (Four Way Books, 2024), and the chapbook The Gleaming of the Blade, the 2021 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. His works have appeared in December, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. A 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, he is also the winner of the 2022 Porch Prize in Poetry and the 2020 ProForma Contest from Grist Journal.

Additional information

Weight .33 lbs
Dimensions 8 × 6 × .2 in


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