In Ambassadors of the Silenced, Alfred Encarnacion brilliantly illuminates his complex family history with the mixed lights of his heritage, Filipino and American. In these nuanced, reflective poems, Encarnacion searches for dignity and identity in a world that wants to inflict labels on him without caring who he really is. Like his literary hero Carlos Bulosan, Encarnacion shows a deep empathy for the outcasts throughout this marvelous, moving collection.
In this book of exquisite poems, Ambassador of the Silenced, Alfred Encarnacion creates a powerful and moving portrait of life as a mestizo in America. He explores his feelings of alienation when others ask him what his background is and as a young boy describes how much he yearns to be a “blue-eyed, blond-haired angel” rather than “a postwar baby with slanted eyes, chubby cheeks and waves of squid-black hair.” This thread of being not quite comfortable in his own skin runs through the entire volume, as these imagistic poems explore grief and loss, family dysfunction, the search for life's meaning, and the fear of aging and death. This is a book about what it means to be human, and I can't think of any other poet who explores this territory as successfully as Encarnacion.
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Alfred Encarnacion’s Ambassadors of the Silenced is a marvelous tribute to memory through glimpses of myth, personal history, male violence, and song. He layers Robert Johnson’s Delta Blues with Carlos Bulosan’s haunting narratives in poems examining belonging and un-belonging. A poet of social engagement, Encarnacion’s expressive range will delight and trouble you in this fierce and stunning second collection.
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Alfred Encarnacion has taught writing at Temple University and published poetry, short stories, essays, and literary reviews in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Paterson Literary Review, and The Virtual Artists Collective (online review). He has won a Wilson Foundation Scholarship Award, a Poets House Scholarship in NYC, and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His debut book of poetry, The Outskirts of Karma, appeared in 2012. He is currently the director of the Stratford Public Library in New Jersey.
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