Is there anything more Florida
than being buried under a church that
will be buried under a shopping mall
that will be ripped open by a hurricane
named after one of the twelve apostles?
In Ariel Francisco’s Miami, invasive lionfish are sympathetic creatures, the beach succumbs to sea-level rise, and “305 till I die” is a cry for help. The speakers in these hilarious and melancholy poems depict a rich and varied emotional landscape that mirrors that of the state they long to leave, dead or alive. They imagine themselves standing on ocean garbage patches, contemplate the crabgrass on traffic medians, and envision the new beauty of a submerged Miami Beach: “Famed art deco replaced by fire coral / and colorful parrot fish, neon lights / restored by pulsating swarms of moon / jellyfish, lit up like a Saturday night.” In one moment the strange becomes familiar, only to become strange again in the next stanza. Taking inspiration from Campbell McGrath and Richard Blanco, among others, Ariel Francisco’s second book of poems deals with climate change and the absurdities and difficulties of being a millenial Latinx in the Sunshine State.
This first edition includes side-by-side Spanish translations by José Nicolás Cabrera-Schneider.
Ariel Francisco's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, The Academy of American Poets, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A poet and translator born in the Bronx to Dominican and Guatemalan parents and raised in Miami, he is the author of the poetry collections A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship (Burrow Press, 2020) and All My Heroes Are Broke (C&R Press, 2017). He lives in Brooklyn.
“Part satirist, part ecopoet, part elegist, but every bit a luminous poet, Ariel Francisco brilliantly voices the complex intersections of the physical, emotional, and natural landscapes that define our sense of place and belonging, as well as our feelings of alienation and ennui.” –RICHARD BLANCO Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country
“How could I not be a fan of Ariel Francisco’s bittersweet Floribeño flow? Like other great books about the Sunshine State (e.g. Campbell McGrath’s Florida Poems), this one does not shy away from its weirdness, its darkness, and its harsh ironies. Still, amid UFOs over the Everglades, the sinking utopia of Miami, and the concatenations of chain stores and lives underwater (in every sense), Francisco finds the lyric metaphysics of our embodied tropics: “How / far does someone’s light travel?” When Francisco writes “Florida of all places, this great / rotting flower” he is not just brilliantly deconstructing Ponce de León’s settler-colonial cluelessness; like Aimé Césaire, he is also digging deep into the pain and power of many diasporas, many crossings, including the Black and Brown histories of our fugitive Americas. Like Florida (or the Bronx), this book is beautiful yet haunted, attuned to the “strange patience of our bodies.” When Francisco wonders “how / little of the ocean I can hold in / my own body before it darkens,” we know we are lucky to hold in our hands this bold notebook of littorals, of many impossible returns. ¿Así se escribe “Caribe”? A.F. is Floribeño a.f.!” –URAYOÁN NOEL author of Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico
“The title A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship holds the secret to Ariel Francisco’s sincere and quirky vision: even when all else fails, there is the matter of still being alive to ponder dilemma. Ah, yes, and to survey what is near at hand whether a flooded parking lot replete with an octopus, the usual alligator stopping traffic before waddling off into the highway brush, or the dilapidated mall left standing so the bats inside don’t take over the city. You get the picture. Then there’s also, the unnerving observation of an arrested man’s handprints evaporating off an alley wall. Quirky in its own way. But sincere? Isn’t that a terribly old fashioned quality? You know, dear reader, it’s about time to claim a bit of that back, humor and all. Enjoy.” –KIMIKO HAHN author of Foreign Bodies
“Reading Ariel Francisco’s marvelous new book A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship, I think of Elizabeth Bishop’s “From the Fishhouses” and her description of the ocean: “It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:/ dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free.” Francisco’s second collection, so deeply concerned with water and rising seas, reveals exactly this paradox, this darkness and this freedom. Whether the poet is reflecting on translating his father’s work from Spanish or driving a Miami highway or reading haiku on the beach or taking out the trash while thinking of the damaged landscape he inhabits, the world of this book is urgent and vivid and brilliantly imagined.” –NICOLE COOLEY author of Of Marriage