"There are many epigraphs in black/Maybe, from authors and leaders like Aimé Césaire, Amiri Baraka, and James Baldwin that, essentially, create a DJ sampling of the context of García’s world, demonstrating to the reader that a Black Latino’s experience in the U.S. is parallel to anyone who is Black in the U.S."
"Family history as mythology and elegy as ode collide in this wondrous collection, [Elegies], by Roberto Carlos Garcia. Keenly aware of the traditions in which he weaves his personal family narratives into poetry, Garcia engages deeply with the work of other BIPOC poets. This influence is clear in the thoughtful centos—“mixtapes”—that punctuate the text, fluidly blending lines by poets such as Aracelis Girmay, Willie Perdomo, and Ross Gay. This is the book of a poet who writes in and for community."
"Contemporary poets like Danez Smith, Claudia Rankine, Nicole Homer, Patricia Smith, and a bevy of other brilliant minds have written (and continue to write) poetry about the neo-American subjugation and murder of brown and black bodies. How simply living is a political act, an act of rebellion. Roberto Carlos Garcia has added to the conversation, but in a new mode."
The work of grief is not simple, or small, or individual. It is one of the inarguable services poets perform. We help readers navigate grief, voicing what is beyond the purview of language or even thought, so that others, in the face of grief, can have some sort of orientation, some knowledge that they are in a space that’s shared. This is much, but not all, of the project of Roberto Carlos Garcia’s [Elegies], a collection anchored by a series of reflections on the meaning and beauty of his grandmother’s life.
A Necessary Everyman: A Book Review of Roberto Carlos Garcia’s Melancolía By Tamara Hart
"This collection of poetry is not overtly political and that is where its radical power lies. Garcia manages to paint a portrait of a man, who is in a way an “everyman”- father, husband, son, dreamer, mower of his lawn - a man longing for the “want” and stuck in the “should.”
A book review of [Elegies] by C. Bain
A book review of black / Maybe by Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta.
Unapologetically vulnerable and intimate, [Elegies], Roberto Carlos Garcia’s third release, peels back the layers of language and culture to thread a story of love, loss, and grief. Brilliant in its evocativeness, urgency, and penmanship, the compilation of lyrical elegies unwraps with nuance and complexity and gifts us with the necessary conversation of what love is/can be for a Black boy/man.
"If melancolía is a mystery in Garcia’s first collection, black/Maybe is a poetic exploration of identity, self, and history, which in the spirit of Aimé Césaire’s Negritude “[takes] charge of one’s destiny as a black man, of one’s history and culture.” This collection is framed by two lyric prose pieces: “Home [An Irrevocable Condition]” and “black Maybe.” In the latter, Garcia asserts, “America thrusts black or white upon you quickly, you have to decide, you have to know who and what you are.” This question of identity, of self is richly investigated through polyphonic lyrics, a chorus of elders and black and brown scholars, an honest examination of family and Dominican history, and vulnerable personal narratives."
"At the same time, while echoing James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, and Ismael Rivera, among others, Garcia places his story within the larger, deeper context of U.S. history and European colonization. The result is a book that successfully blends the personal with the political against a broader historical backdrop."
"Part history lesson, part memoir, and part love letter, Roberto Carlos Garcia’s black/Maybe: An Afro Lyric explores identity, belonging, and race with grace and frankness."
Roberto Carlos Garcia’s latest, [Elegies], is a collection to be kept close at hand right now, as every day sends us further into the upside-down of mask mandates and social distancing. In every possible sense, it is an essential bedside companion, be it a self-isolated hotel drawer or hospital room trapped in the shadows of mourning. Sometimes grief is an ever-moveable feast, and here we are blessed to know there will be poets like Garcia to see us through, to affirm and celebrate this fleeting gift of time on earth.
A Book Review of Roberto Carlos Garcia's black / Maybe by Donna Vorreyer.
"What is it to mourn your beloveds in a national atmosphere ever thickening with new griefs, one in which you must continuously grieve the state-sanctioned oppression and murder of fellow BIPOC? What can be the consolations, what can lighten the burden, of a particular sense of inherited loss, its centuries of weight bearing down through the generations on each individual? The poems in Roberto Carlos Garcia’s third book, [Elegies], invite these questions."
Grief may take centerstage in [Elegies], but it is love as it intersects with a lived Afro-Latinx experience that is the light and backdrop to it all. García’s new mixtape functions much like the cento, borrowing lines from other poets. His new poetic form, however, converses with other forms of art spanning from fiction to rap lyrics to movies to non-fiction. With the invention of his beloved mixtape, García serves up a meditation on grief and love as felt in the body of an Afro-Latinx man who finds joy amid the messy progression of grief and borrows from literary ancestors and contemporaries alike who inform his work.
Roberto Carlos Garcia
A Book Review of Roberto Carlos Garcia's Melancolía by Marina Carreira.
"Garcia’s latest collection begins with a cento form of his own invention called a mixtape, which uses the words of other poets and writers, lyrics from songs, as well as a required number of original lines from the author. In this way, the writer inserts his own voice into the landscape of voices that has helped shape him. A mixtape was usually made for a friend or beloved as a way to connect. This collection functions in much the same way, melding family narrative, societal interrogation, and cultural influence into its own mixtape of memory and elegy, giving us a portrait not just of loss but also of hope."