Nico Vela Page’s Americón is a collection of poems in Spanglish that weaves a space for the queer, trans body to know the land, and itself, as extensions of each other. The land is the desert of Northern New Mexico, the forgotten Pan-American Highway, the space between our thighs, the quaking cordillera of Chile, the moans of elk, and the ripe fruit waiting to be picked. Through archive, attention, and erotic ecopoetics, Page’s debut collection of poems extends far across the page, the gender binary, language, and the Americas to find out who we are by asking where we are.
Nico Vela Page's Americón is the 2020 Open Reading Period Book Prize winner, and was selected by guest judge Renee Gladman.
Nico Vela Page is a documentary poet and filmmaker whose work is rooted in a variety of research practices. She is Chilean-American, trans, non-binary femme, and is living on Narragansett land, in Providence, RI, where she recently got her BA from Brown University. Nico works in the permeable edges of gender, language, and place, often mixing mediums, always dancing their way through. They are learning to garden.
In a time where being the loudest, the brightest, the most seen, or the most followed has become the measurement for success in contemporary life, Americón, sculpted in subtle, unhurried brilliance, subverts the lure of that noise in an instant; it takes us further in. It stretches the spatiality of experience and reminds us that we are from some place, that we bear upon the land and the land bears upon us, that language splits us in its unfolding. The question that seems most urgent in this thoughtful and moving collection is how do we envision systems of care and responsibility for the languages we inhabit, the identities we carry, the people we love, the sites of memory rooting at the edges of the physical world. And, in its own expansiveness, the book lays out a path toward possible answers: we start liminally, in awe of thresholds.
—Renee Gladman (2020 Open Reading Period Guest Judge)
In this remarkable and moving debut, Nico Vela Page reminds us that we are made and remade by the lands and places we inhabit, that language begins bodily, and utterance entangles us with history, memory, and inheritance. Americón resists false binaries of belonging, of body, of thought, of desire, and crafts a poetics of possibility rooted in attentiveness and care, which is a kind of wonder, which is suffused with love. This book is a rare gift.
“Not even trees falling/ from fruit can pick / my body off this ground.” In Nico Vela Page’s Americón, conventional distances between bodies, land, gender, and language are thrown into new embrace, gardened into poems with sweet, lush aplomb and tenderness. Americón swallows up the slur within its title with the hot ecopoetic breath of queer, translanguaging multi-grammars. With halted breath—“Sm,all trees/Scrib,bled brush/Low cact,us”—and love of kin, from hummingbird pecks to ditch bitch politics, this is a book that lovingly expands the endpoints of the continuum.
What an extraordinary collection! In Americón we are not between worlds or across worlds, we already, in our becoming, belong to a realm that warms us like a packed train, where signifiers are not part of a homogenous whole, nor particularly othered. Here Nico Vela Page finds languages for a world unlike any I have belonged to or read, an insistently familiar wording/thriving that repeats over and over, I know I've met you somewhere. Aquí están “nuestros cuerpos empapados/ our soggy/bodies” and they show us “a way to disappear/in.” I read it with a hunger I hadn't felt in a long time and it left me suggestible and open.
—Raquel Salas Rivera
Published by Wendy’s Subway, 192 pgs, 13 × 20 cm, Softcover, 2022, 978-1-7359242-7-4