Roberto Carlos Garcia

Roberto Garcia's singular voice is at its most potent in this remarkable book, which is grounded and glorified by a centerpiece of lyrically evocative elegies, both rough-hewn and tender, which lay bare the poet's longing and his unremitting quest to fill the gaping hollow left behind by the death of his revered grandmother.  Although he writes "& the moon offers only the cold silver of struggle," there is also incessant muscle here—the birthing of the "mixtape," an addictive new poetic form; "A Tempest" a gorgeously inspired otherworld inhabited by Garcia's mother and father, and the book's solo prose offering, a bitter and blade-edged essay that seeks, yet again, to ascertain the utter urgency of the black life.

 —Patricia Smith, Incendiary Art


When a poet is born into the world, they are met by a chaos for which they need forms to see.  In Roberto Carlos Garcia's [Elegies], we must qualify that birth: When a Black poet is born into the world, they must quickly rock a coat of resistance, become attached to witness and fearless remembering, understand that poems can be shaped into weapons, bouquets, fire, and testimony.  Roberto Carlos Garcia is that poet that cuts to the heart of the question: What is life?  But, again, for this poet, the question has to be reexamined, restated, or remixed.  In [Elegies], the question, beautifully answered, intrepidly addressed, becomes: What is life for a Black boy-cum-poet-cum-man in a world of unrelenting stares, judgement, and oppression? Fortunately, we have in Roberto Carlos Garcia a poet who has just enough fight to confront history and erasure with a daily naming of names, respect for this literary tradition and lineage, and an obligation to battle dominant tropes. He is in that class of necessary poets, our neighborhood's panacea against forgetting, and a primer on writing a book with just enough love to save us all.

—Willie Perdomo, The Crazy Bunch


The power and necessity of the poet resides in his/her or their willingness to mature with language alongside time’s continuum—for the sake of the historical and humanity. What I mean is that Roberto Carlos Garcia’s third collection, Elegies, is poetically structured through the lament of love, an elegiac love that he has come to recognize through temporal space, and how this examination manifests itself in the love of culture, the love of melanated skin, the love of family and the love of self. When Garcia makes the lyrical avowal: “I don’t want to be afraid of love/I want to know where to love from,” it is unmistakable that this poet has been searching for that calibrated center from which to create a dirge of observation, not only in the beautiful but also the undeniable ugly that terrorizes within the construction of race. Elegies is an exercise in the precision of craft, and I heart these poems for the aftersensation they create in the body: hope, empathy and love.

 —Randall Horton author of {#289-128}: Poems





Agitations both tender and muscular simmer inside these poems. A sadness that’s palpable and physical haunts this poet; so does rage at the power-mongers’ forces that keep children hungry, that fester poverty in terrifying mutations. Poet of engagement, Garcia speaks to the moon, to his sister, to the seasons and the garden, to his body a vessel: “these hands like a chunk of asteroid—full of taking & giving.” This book offers us a photo-real blueprint of one man’s life-space, an elegant blues-print of one man’s heart, with direct utterance and lavish music.

 —JudithVollmer is the author of five full-length books of poetry, including The Apollonia Poems, forthcoming in 2017 as winner of the University of Wisconsin Press Four Lakes Poetry Prize.Type your paragraph here.


Roberto Carlos García is, it seems to me, poet-kin of both Lorca and Neruda, but also things like rain, wind, the color yellow and the color green. In Melancolía we have a collection of gorgeously quiet poems rendered by intellect and the dream where lyricism is born out of the dusky space between mystery and the everyday. Here is a breathtaking archive of an imagination at work, a body made up of effort and world. See: “My friends I am not above you // I can hear the song of reckoning in the rose thorns” and “In my mouth melancolía is an orchard, /a yellowing day & bluing night, // In my ribcage melancolía is an ecstatic lilt /made of pearls, my heart—wet sand, /pungent as dogwoods.”

 —Aracelis Girmay is the author of three collections of poetry: The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016); Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011),  and Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007). She is a Cave Canem fellow and teaches at Hampshire College and in the Drew University MFA program.


​In these sensuous poems everything is up for inspection and interrogation, including the speaker himself. Here are echoes of Lorca and Neruda, their depth and power, but in a voice entirely the poet’s own. Roberto Carlos Garcia’s poems take beauty as a gift, and also as a sometimes foil against capitalism and the numbness of the suburban life we are supposed to desire. “& what is poetry if not what we need?” We need poems like these, with their living language and their vision of where we are and where poetry, ecstatic and elegiac, can take us.

 —Anne Marie Macari, author of Red Deer, (Persea, 2015)


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Garcia's black / Maybe is the new standard for American race work in the 21st century. Through bouncy and superbly rich elegies, odes and essays, Garcia decimates notions of monolithic blackness and/or Dominican culture with language that haunts, hopes and howls. Every piece in this collection tugs at tomorrow while fueling itself with crumbs of yesterday. Masterful writing looks and sounds like black / Maybe


Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Long Division, and the forthcoming Heavy

Roberto Carlos Garcia is, in his own words, an angry black man. Born of Castilian gypsies and Papa Africa, born of Trujillo's blood bath, the marked Dominican colonized, the worker's class, born American and city poor only to go incognito, a Suburban single-family latINO, he is a poet who refuses to lie or play nice, who refuses to be owned or named. black / Maybe is a brilliant mixed-self drama of historic proportions, complete with an intruding chorus of the wise and the dead. I hear a casting call to the culpable. I hear my own republic being sang.

 Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of Render An Apocalypse and American Purgatory. ​Translator of Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation with Husam Qaisi.


García openly confronts racism: ideological, institutional, interpersonal, internalized, and intersectional; he calls for a healing, for a seeing of blackness as beautiful in the sun. In black / Maybe, García invokes the dramatic chorus to offer commentary on the complexities of Afro-Latinx identity. Through voces afrodescendietes, García engages in an experiential, existential, and historical hermeneutics. We are invited into the familiar spaces in which we learn and question who we are, where we are prodded to redefine ourselves outside of an amorphous whiteness. García reveals the bricks within us, that hide who we are, behind which we have only ourselves to meet// ourselves to beat,// only ourselves/ to eat

 Dr. Raina J. León, author of Profeta Without Refuge, Sombra Dis(locate), and Boogeyman Dawn