Imaginary Animal by Rachelle Linda Escamilla

Imaginary Animal was constructed for my family, really. It began as a way of chronicling the stories and images and sentiment around the different identities for the different women in my life: from campesino to cannery workers to cooks to house cleaners to caregivers to poet?–Rachelle Linda Escamilla

Willow Books is proud to announce the release of Imaginary Animal by Rachelle Linda Escamilla. The American Tapestry would be incomplete without this collection. Her story is mine, in many ways–just substitute cotton for the artichokes, and throw in the debt owed to the forebears who worked so hard for so little…


More from Rachelle:

It wasn’t until I began constructing the book that the ugliness from the outside world began to impose itself, and I realized, slowly at first and then glaringly after, that I was out of place. I remember reading Raul Zurita’s Purgatory at Pitt and immediately feeling drawn to his struggle: I had found myself in his book. Prior to development of these poems I owned false freedom – I just didn’t see the impositions of race, class and hate, but while I was revisiting the memories of my mothers, searching for terminology and learning of my own plight – I could suddenly see the borders of my pen.

From Patrick Rosal, 2014 Willow Books Literature Awards Judge:

This isn’t just a scientific question, but a poetic one: How does the body make sense of data? Imaginary Animal is a compendium of lyric fragments of memory, fact, desire, the sensual and the sensory. While we’re conditioned to distort or completely tune out the role of immigrant workers in the United States, the untitled lyrics of Imaginary Animal are precisely calibrated to recognize and meditate upon a nation’s laborers. The poems are energized by voice, perspective and consciousness. which are constantly shifting and transforming. While America, with its terabytes-per-second flow of information, largely constructs a single narrative of immigrant workers, this book stitches together a very sophisticated portrait – juxtaposing the public and the private, the imperative and the interrogative. There are beautiful, subtle recurrences of deployment (military perhaps), directions on how to reap vegetables, border crossing – that provide a kind of cinematic metronome to the poems. They anchor the dream of the Imaginary Animal. The title comes from the Raúl Zurita epigraph: “Hoy laceamos este animal imaginario / que por el color blanco “ or “Today we tie up this imaginary animal / that ran freely through the color white.” The Animal is the human; and the imaginary of the title is the American Imaginary. This is an ambitious and loving attempt to make us see both with profound complexity and a greater sense of justice.