ISBN-10: 1556596340
ISBN-13: 9781556596346
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date: 05/03/2022
Dimensions: 9.00" L, 6.50" W, 0.40" H

Diaries of a Terrorist


Price: $17.00


Sexy, outspoken, and explosive, the terrorist of Soto’s debut collection resists police violence with linguistic verve and radical honesty.

This debut poetry collection demands the abolition of policing and human caging. In Diaries of a Terrorist, Christopher Soto uses the “we” pronoun to emphasize that police violence happens not only to individuals, but to whole communities. His poetics open the imagination towards possibilities of existence beyond the status quo. Soto asks, “Who do we call terrorist, & why”? These political surrealist poems shift between gut-wrenching vulnerability, laugh-aloud humor, and unapologetic queer punk raunchiness. Diaries of a Terrorist is groundbreaking in its ability to speak–from a local to a global scale–about one of the most important issues of our time.

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"An activist and artist examines policing, incarceration and trauma–through poetry. In Diaries of a Terrorist, Salvadoran American Christopher Soto takes an unflinching and raw view of current systems' impact on Latino and other communities–and imagines 'a more just, caring, and equitable world.'"–NBC News

"Christopher Soto is the living embodiment of the best poetry being written in Los Angeles right now: queer, punk, pro-migrant, irrepressibly rousing and political, with a peerless ability to turn the most subdued of literary affairs into a backyard party. . . . Soto's long-awaited debut collection, Diaries of a Terrorist, takes as its central mission the abolition of policing and human caging. Soto's poetics of dissent is refreshingly unpretentious, and the book's stylistically avant-garde yet highly relatable poems encompass several critical conversations within the abolitionist movement, such as youth detention, migrants at the border, trans people harassed by airport security and the incarceration of Palestinian activists. While it explicitly calls for the end of the police state, Diaries of a Terrorist also is fueled by a scarred personal history, which finds its voice in confessional poems where Soto pushes through the pain of experience to remind us that a more just world isn't only possible but necessary–becoming a loving tribute to lives traumatized by domestic violence, for-profit incarceration and the grim realities of what it takes to get by in Los Angeles."Los Angeles Times

"It's amazing to see the power that poetry can have when sharpened by the activist communities that demand it. . . . Soto's work is an essential addition to the legacy of queer Latinx writers in Los Angeles. Not only is his individual craft poignant, but his voice echoes his people. His concern is not to get accolades for his writing, but to open the ways that society can imagine better futures. This collection of poetry is in fact a diary, but one that is produced by a communal 'we' instead of a solitary 'I.'"–Los Angeles Review of Books

"With his debut collection, the Salvadoran poet and abolitionist not only finds his voice but invents a new way of voicing, scoring requiems and punk protests for a huddled-close 'we, w larger than any one life or death: Was that life // We didn't do enough // We did so much.'"–Christopher Spaide, Boston Globe Best Books of 2022

"For Christopher Soto, abolition is personal. In the Los Angeles-based poet's long-awaited debut poetry collection Diaries of a Terrorist, published by Copper Canyon Press, they demand it. Weaving survivor narratives, including their own, through artful stanzas, Soto's work disrupts our conceptions of violence and safety. . . . Still, he emphasizes that the book is not meant to be an individualistic account of his own experiences, but rather a multi-faceted rallying cry that draws from multiple sources. The use of the 'we' pronoun throughout the collection forces the reader to confront how policing targets, maims, and destroys entire communities rather than just select individuals within them."–THEM magazine, award notification

"Diaries of a Terrorist . . . doesn't just offer beauty; it delivers a powerful message the way that poetry best can. It asks the question 'Who do we call a terrorist, and why?' and forces readers to look deep inside and examine the borders imposed by society."–Out100, Out Magazine

"Skewers the carceral state's unwavering belief in its own effectiveness. . . . [Diaries of a Terrorist] hums on the colloquial register, by turns campy, raw, and direct, inviting the reader to sit with the poet. . . . Soto adopts the pronoun 'we' to blur borders between his own experiences and those of others, and through it, he embodies both the communal impact of state violence and the collective resistance to it. His poem's speakers sift through an imagined landscape of memories–incarcerated teenagers in gray rooms, the aftermath of a police shooting, the aftershocks of familial abuse. The poems are globetrotting, too, meditating on the xenophobia of security in settings from India to Palestine to the Americas. Soto roves from the intimate to the international to further reveal the 'we, ' to show the shared condition."–The Nation

"Probes the space between violence and safety. . . . Soto centers stories of victims of violence, whether at the hands of a relative or a violent predator. He also explores what it means when that violence is carried out by the same systems that are supposed to prevent violence: police, prisons, the justice system. . . . Christopher Soto's activism in and around the literary community elevates the voices of queer and immigrant writers. . . . Beautiful, sometimes melancholy, thought-provoking, feeling-provoking poems"–All of It from WYNC

"[Soto's] latest effort is about finding space to articulate both how he sees the world around him and reimagine how the world could look without those never-ending streams of violence. . . . [The] new poetry collection addresses a spectrum that weaves together stories of police violence, the AIDS epidemic, abuse, borders, immigration and customs enforcement, abolition, and more–it packs a serious punch."–Up Front from KPFA

"Soto and his work make me want to produce writing that both provokes and inspires. It doesn't have to be either form or content. By playing with atypical formats, Soto has queered what poetry can be and created something fresh and alive. His freedom and playfulness made me realize that my work doesn't have to look like anyone else's."–David Vogel, Electric Lit

"Uses surrealist verse with a punk edge to speak out against police violence and the carceral state."–Orange County Register

"Alongside its uncompromising portrait of injustice, Diaries of a Terrorist also offers audacious glimmers of hope."Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

"I've been looking forward to this debut poetry book, Diaries of a Terrorist, for quite some time. Christopher Soto is someone I think of as a poet and activist in the same breath. His taut debut poetry collection is a testament to queer defiance of policing in the United States and abroad. His activism off the page (with UCLA Cops Off Campus, Writers for Migrant Justice, and Undocupoets) has pushed back against policing, human caging, and the mistreatment of migrants. Through language, his poetry and activism share some of the same concerns: an urgency for action, a clarity of vision, and yes, a new sense of hope. If a debut poetry collection serves as an introduction of a poet to the greater literary world, Soto's Diaries reveal a poet who is unafraid to make material of their lives in service of a call for a better world. The book soars by imagining a future through abolitionist poetry. In many ways, Soto picks up the mantle of Queer Latinx scholar José Esteban Muñoz who writes that 'queerness exists for us as an ideology that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness's domain.' For Soto, queering the future means letting poets and abolitionists lead the way."–The Brooklyn Rail

"This is a book that will move you–rock you. Soto is unapologetic in the demands he makes of his readers. He challenges us to look closely at the damage caused to individuals, to families, and to communities by police violence and by the inhumanity of caging human beings. Soto's collection calls upon us to feel the world as it is and to imagine alternative possibilities."The Rumpus

"In Diaries of a Terrorist, Soto tackles policing at every level, questioning who gets called 'terroristi and what gets called 'public safety.' It's a visceral reading experience that explores Soto's own traumas as well as the societal trauma of carceral systems. Which may sound overwhelming and sometimes is–but his poetry brings tender vulnerability and crass humor in equal measure, and his book opens up new possibilities for a better world we can all work to create together."–Cut

"In his debut collection, Christopher Soto shows vulnerability and humor to talk about some of the issues affecting the world today, from queerness to identity to police violence."–She Reads

"Christopher lives between two worlds, between dragonflies and boxing gloves."– Alexandra Lytton Regalado, El Diario de Hoy

"Soto has found a visceral language that . . . erupts with the punch of a boxer."–Rain Taxi

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ISBN-10: 1556596340
ISBN-13: 9781556596346
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date: 05/03/2022
Dimensions: 9.00" L, 6.50" W, 0.40" H
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