Watch this Poets in Pajama's reading to hear poems from Hands That Break & Scar
"Chapters" interview on the writing of Hands That Break & Scar with Eliot Parker
Hands That Break
newly released from
Praise for Hands That Break & Scar
"Chavez knows how to reel us in and keep our attention as she unpacks the complexities of life and the textures of one’s identity. . . In these poems, the body is the site of that beautiful capacity for liminality; a way to transcend our fixed ideas about identity while at once anchoring the histories of our bodies where those notions of identity come from to begin with."
-- Review by Kristi Carter, The Rumpus
"[E]ach poem spins a narrative with these details in such a spellbinding way that I can hear a voice reading to me. It's in this narrative temperament that the magic flows through, concrete details and straight-up storytelling. I can tell you what literally happens in each poem and give you more of her words, but what I can't explain is the feeling left behind from each last line. There's magic at work here. Maybe not in the overt sense of spells or illusions or concoctions, but in the sense that in the physical and every day, there's hope and vessels hungry for love and anger."
-- Review by Reyes Ramirez, Glass A Journal of Poetry
"Hands that Break and Scar demands a full reading with the senses. This collection speaks to a vivid, visceral mingling of blood that soaks deeply into the page, always nourishing the reader with is abundance of fruit, color, and its “rainbow of children.” It is a love song to the world, in spite of its dangers."
-- Review by Jennifer Martelli, Up The Staircase Quarterly
"In language that is both achingly honest and meticulously poetic, Chavez chronicles the passage from childhood to young womanhood in California's Central Valley, negotiating culture, language, identity, sexuality, love, and meaning. It is not that these poems reveal the secret profound nature of things--in Chavez' world, the lines blur between violence and love, joy and struggle, memory and transcendence, the sacred and the mundane. One thing flows into another and back again. Hands That Break and Scar will leave an indelible mark on your heart, reminding you that poetry, beauty, and life are everywhere--within and without."
– ire’ne lara silva, author of Blood Sugar Canto
"The poems in Hands That Break and Scar work as a sort of mosaic, vividly portraying a bi-cultural, working class--and often precarious— childhood in the rough world of California’s hot Central Valley. This community is as stressed as it is vital--and children become vigilant and self-sufficient at an early age. In one poem, two children lay down together between the short walls they’ve built with their own hands from dumpster bricks, where they “gazed at the stars, held hands, and felt at home.” In another, the speaker tells us that a tattoo artist’s hands “are the only things I think about, the only things I can picture.” "I long for the heat she’ll create,” . . . For this poet, human hands can be the source of both pain and salvation, and Chavez celebrates the moments of true joy and grace to be found in simple physical acts and otherwise ordinary situations. . . This is a stunning first book, filled with brilliant images, hard truths, and honest hope."
– Corrinne Clegg Hales, author of To Make it Right
"Each word, each line in Hands That Break & Scar draws the reader into a trail of well-crafted poems with touching and tragicomic narratives. In poems such as the aptly titled, "Running Into Things," for example, Chavez uses an ironic but effective tone to describe an uncle's drunk driving accident: "it would only take a couple / hundred bucks to fill the hole." Likewise, other poems, from "Thirteen and Catholic," and "Neighborhood Watch," approach sensitive subjects in similar the same manner. The result is a collection that is not afraid to show the poet's sizable scars, even as it treats them at times like they were minor bruises."
– José B. González, author of Toys Made of Rock, founder and editor of LatinoStories.Com