American anti-immigrant environment, “Mexican Heaven” by José Olivarez, Citizen Illegal Poetry Collection by José Olivarez, Mexican American Poet, Young Chicago Authors (YCA)
Front Cover: Poetry Collection, Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez
My Poetry Corner September 2019 features the poem “Mexican Heaven” from the poetry collection Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018) by José Olivarez, a poet, teacher, and poetry slam performer. Born in Calumet City on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite all the odds, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.
Olivarez’s first contact with poetry occurred through his high school’s poetry slam team. Their poetry had a profound impact on him. In a conversation with Jessica Hopper in July 2018, Olivarez said, “It made me feel like I could question more.” For the first time, he saw a way of becoming his true self, other than the reserved person everyone wanted him to be.
In his poem, “I Tried to Be a Good Mexican Son,” he shares his parents’ disappointment that he didn’t become a doctor, lawyer, or businessman.
I even went to college. But i studied African American studies which is not
The Law or The Medicine or The Business. my mom still loved me.
i tried to be a good Mexican son. Went to a good college & learned depression isn’t just for white people… Continue reading