Museum of the Americas

Longlist, National Book Awards 2018 for Poetry

Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez, book cover
ISBN 9780143133445
Penguin Books / Penguin Random House
J. Michael Martinez author photo, credit Teresa Veramendi, Museum of the Americas
J. Michael Martinez

J. Michael Martinez received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for his first collection, Heredities. His second, In the Garden of the Bridehouse, was published by the University of Arizona Press. More about this author >

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The poems in J. Michael Martinez’s third collection of poetry circle around how the perceived body comes to be coded with the transhistorical consequences of an imperial narrative. Engaging beautiful and otherworldly Mexican casta paintings, morbid photographic postcards depicting the bodies of dead Mexicans, the strange journey of the wood and cork leg of General Santa Anna, and Martinez’s own family lineage, Museum of the Americas gives accounts of migrant bodies caught beneath, and fashioned under, a racializing aesthetic gaze. Martinez questions how “knowledge” of the body is organized through visual perception of that body, hypothesizing the corporeal as a repository of the human situation, a nexus of culture. Museum of the Americas’ poetic revives and repurposes the persecuted ethnic body from the appropriations that render it an art object and, therefore, disposable.