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In this dark, ebullient, compendious tour de force, Estaban Oloarte leads us on a manic, devotional pilgrimage through the cornices of a Mexico City that is both hyperreal and phantasmagorical, a place of “aluminum flowers” and “taco stands under tarps” and “candles in hobbleskirt coke bottles” and “gentrified upper class condominiums.” But bardo is no catalogue of shards. Beneath the Joycean profusion beats a vatic thrum, where “the sunbeams on Sinaloa are as thin as a drunk’s blood.” Like the metropolis they conjure, Oloarte’s poems yearn toward the unsayable. Nor does bardo confine itself to the alphabet: its pages are runed with glyphs and koans, as if from the hand of an ancient sea-crazed monk. This is not just a literary, but a sacred and demonic text, fed by celestial, sublunary, and subterranean powers. Read at your own risk.

—Philip Brady, author of The Elsewhere: Poems and Poetics, & others

Urgent, inventive and sorrowful in turn, poems wrenched from some existential plane, mournful in their trajectory yet fascinating in their strangeness, like black flowers blooming along a crooked path.

—Estill Pollock, author of Entropy, Time Signatures, Relic Environments Trilogy, & others

A mind in conurbation: Esteban Oloarte’s bardo grounds poems in the finite, the milk aisle, searching for cilantro. The next lines raise Baudelaire and Heidegger into explosions of cityscape. Oloarte “souvenir[s] the sight” of objects, patterns instead of definitions. Each poem is framed in boxed segments as if from a textbook, becoming jouissance in fractal sets.—Sara Cahill Marron, author of Call Me Spes, Nothing You Build Here, Belongs Here, & Reasons for the Long Tu’m

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