2023 COURAGE to WRITE Writer of Note Awardee Feature of the Week:
Alfredo Aguilar, Yield to No Country (Poetry), Lockhart, TX
Yield to No Country is a collection of poems that chronicles the intersecting histories of increased militarization on the U.S/Mexico border alongside personal and familial memory.
“I hope through an orientation in memory/history we might take up the responsibility of imagining a future without the cruelty of militarized boundaries.
The night before heading to a residency some states away I had trouble sleeping. I was anxious about travel and about what I’d do with the gift of time that was being afforded to me. I had a manuscript that would end up being my first book with plans to review and edit it, but I was also thinking about what else I might do with my time. I had a few poems in the manuscript that I’d taken out because, while they were similar in their topics and themes to other poems in the book, they felt a bit out of place. I was wondering about using some of my time to return to those poems and see what I might be able to do with them now that some months had passed since I last worked on them. Lying in bed, I then asked myself, “What if I made those poems longer?” This insight felt at once deeply profound but also rather obvious. During that residency I did end up making those poems longer, leaning into a longer line and a more narrative mode that could accommodate history and memory in the way the poems needed. These poems that had been pushed out of that first book in many ways were the thematic and stylistic beginnings of the project I’m working on now. I think about this moment from time to time, on the precipice before a swath of free time, how not everything has to fit in one book, how a poem insists on the shape it must take to accommodate its subject.”