José Olivarez


José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/ Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he co-edited the poetry anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. He is the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association and named a Debut Poet of 2018 by Poets & Writers. In 2019, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Source

My Therapist Says Make Friends with your Monsters

we are gathered in truth,

because my therapist said

it was time to stop running,


& i pay my therapist too much

to be wrong, so i am here.

my monsters look almost human


in the sterile office light.

my monsters say they want 

to be friends. i remember


when we first met, me & my 

monsters. i remember the moment

i planted each one. each time


i tried to shed a piece of myself,

it grew into a monster. take this one

with the collar of belly fat


the monster called Chubby, Husky,

Gordito. i climbed out of that skin

as fast as i could, only to see some spirit


give it legs. i ran & it never stopped

chasing me. each new humiliation 

coming to life & following after me.


after me, a long procession of sad 

monsters. each monster hungry

to drag me back, to return me


to the dirt i came from. ashes

to ashes, fat boy to fat.

my monsters crowd around me,


my therapist says i can't 

make the monsters disappear

no matter how much i pay her.


all she can do is bring them

into the room, so i can get

to know them, so i can learn


their names, so i can see

clearly their toothless mouths,

their empty hands, their pleading eyes.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image

Mental Health

Literary Devices:


a break between words within a metrical foot


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


A stanza of three lines of verse that rhyme together or are connected by rhyme with an adjacent stanza.

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure