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The poems in Auto/Body are an inexhaustible engine--sometimes a body, sometimes flesh--a sensual exploration of what it means to repair, to remake, to keep going even when rebuilding feels impossible.

From the greased-up engines of auto body shops to the innumerable points of light striking the dance floor of a queer nightclub, Auto/Body, winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, connects the vulnerability of the narrating queer body to the language of auto mechanics to reveal their shared decadence.

Behind the wheel of this book is an insistent, humorous voice whose experiences have lent themselves to a deep, intimate knowledge of survival, driven by the pursuit of joy and exalted pleasure. Raised in and near auto body shops, Vickie Vértiz remembers visiting them to elevate the family car to examine what's underneath, to see what's working and what's not. The poetry in this book is also a body shop, but instead we take our bodies, identities, desires, and see what's firing. In this shop we ask: What needs changing? How do our bodies transcend ways of being we have received so that we may become more ourselves?

From odes to drag, to pushing back on the tyranny of patriarchy, to loving too hard and too queer, to growing up working-class in a time of incessant border violence and incarceration, this collection combusts with blood and fuel. In other words, Vértiz writes to dissolve a colonial engine and reconstruct a new vessel with its remains.

About the Author

Vickie Vértiz is an award-winning Mexican American poet, writer, and professor whose work has appeared in the New York Times magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her book Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut won the 2018 PEN America literary prize in poetry. A graduate of Williams College, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California, Riverside, she teaches in the Writing Program at UC Santa Barbara.

"Vickie Vértiz's voice sings out like a trumpet on a battlefield. She writes with a pen so determined it could win a war. Her poems make even the most foreign parts of the world feel known and personal. What a way to ascend and take us with her." --Darrel Alejandro Holnes, author of Stepmotherland

"Auto/Body by Vickie Vértiz is a rebellion against violence and colonization. 'Rights to land that was never / yours Now you dig your hands into teenage girls.' Her linguistic virtuosity challenges, cajoles, and questions repressive attitudes. She playfully engages metaphor, paradox, and satire. Vértiz is a bold, strong voice. 'I'm not afraid. In this sparkle, in the middle of all of us, I am / not afraid to burn down this and every song.'" --Sheryl Luna, author of Magnificent Errors

"The fierceness in Auto/Body does not relent, whether in its crisp memory-capture or in its attention to legacy, to present, to future in its constant ache and rift of loveliness and tumult. With undeniable power and lush clarity, Vickie Vertiz writes a path for readers to follow even when 'there's nowhere to go, ' even when 'the world keeps ending, ' writing with 'a love which implores all of us to act & walk the fractures.'" --Khadijah Queen, author of I'm So Fine

"In this collection, Vértiz asks the necessary questions, invites us to give our thanks and not our judgement and shows us that the way forward is through the memories we live out daily." --Raquel Salas Rivera, former poet laureate of Philadelphia

"Auto/Body by Vickie Vértiz draws on the ostentatious beauty and raw power of Los Angeles car culture to interrogate constructions of gender and family dynamics within a Latinx context." --Harriet Books

"The title of Vickie Vértiz's latest poetry collection, Auto/Body, suggests the inner workings of cars, but its focus has to do with the harnessing and distribution of power, personally and societally. Sometimes fueled by rage, sometimes by desire, this power serves as the driving force behind this collection." --ZYZZYVA: A San Francisco Journal of Arts & Letters

Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Pub date: January 01, 2023
90 pages
Format: Paperback