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


after Safia Elhillo


where is your home?


in my parents’ new house

there is a room for everyone

except me.


where is your home?


i went to México & no one recognized me.


where is your home?


i went to México & everyone was my cousin.

the radio played José José straight from

my mom’s mixtapes. where you from, my cousins ask,

& i point at the radio.


where is your home?


it took me three years to hang art

in my Bronx apartment. soon after,

i started getting tattoos. there, i said, 

i’m all moved in now.


where is your home?


riding down Lake Shore Drive

listening to GCI. 

all the songs i was given

slap through the car

like the lake slaps the shore.


where is your home?


it took me three days to take down my art

& move out of the Bronx. is leaving 

always easier than arriving?


where is your home?


the house i grew up in was foreclosed.

there is a small note taped to the door.

i still have the key, but the key opens nothing.





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Poetic Form

Literary Devices:

After Poems

A poem where the form, theme, subject, style, or line(s) is inspired by the work another poet.


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered