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Unaccompanied

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  39 reviews
This gorgeous debut speaks with heart-wrenching intimacy and first-hand experience to the hot-button political issues of immigration and border crossings.
Paperback, 88 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Copper Canyon Press
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4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  39 reviews


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Igrowastreesgrow
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, bought
Wonderful collection of poems. I enjoyed the walk through a different life.
Sidik Fofana
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: Will kick down any wall built.
Sam
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zamora’s first full-length poetry collection arrives at a very crucial moment for our country. The wall depicted on the cover reflects both our president’s words and what separates a young boy from his parents. The material appears to be heavily autobiographical, or biographical about his other family members. This gives US readers, who may be unfamiliar with El Salvador’s brutal war, an introduction to how that country has been torn apart and affected across time.

Immigration, both its causes an
...more
David
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Powerful, enlightening, and disturbing
Grady
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘Real life turned into myth and myth made real life’

Poet Javier Zamora was born in the small El Salvadoran coastal fishing town of La Herradura and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, joining his parents in California. He earned a BA at the University of California-Berkeley and an MFA at New York University and is a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Javier’s debut UNACCOMPANIED assesses borderland politics, race, and immigration on a profoundly personal leve
...more
Ingrid Contreras
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book that speaks to the Zamora’s experience of crossing multiple borders from El Salvador to the United States at nine years old to be reunited with his parents, Unaccompanied is a collection populated by deserts, border violence, a family’s desperate claim to survive, and the conjuring up and remembrance of a country left behind.

Javier Zamora’s Unaccompanied asks: Is fleeing from danger a crime? Is being driven by spotlights and vans into desert trees and into hiding a crime? The government s
...more
Ryan Miller
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m neither a poet nor a great lover of poetry. But in this age of immigration and asylum controversy, when too many people isolate others as faceless issues rather than as people, Zamora’s imagery and descriptions are heart-breaking. As a privileged, sheltered North American, I have little to no personal understanding of the war, the fear, the gangs and the violence Zamora describes from his childhood in El
Salvador. I have no personal understanding of what it took to seek safety by crossing the
...more
Jim
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jim by: Kelly
An astonishingly powerful book of poetry, largely speaking of the memories of growing up amid the violence of civil war in El Salvador, and the experiences of illegal immigration into the United States.

Among my favorites:
"Instructions for my Funeral"
Douse my in the cheapest gin. Whatever you do,
don't judge my home. Cut my bones
with a machete till I'm finest dust.
[Wrap my pito in panties so I dream of pisar].
Please, no priests, no crosses, no flowers.

"Disappeared" begins Hold these names respons
...more
Craig Werner
Poems of witness to the realities faced by children making their way to the U.S., in Zamora's case to escape the chaos of El Salvador. Most of the poems are written in a direct, near prose voice, but there are flashes of lyrical depth that suggest Zamora's going to be worth reading as he evolves. For example, from "Pump Water from the Well":

....From my forehead,
the jaw of a burro, hit on the side and scraped by a lighter to wake the song
that speaks two worlds.

I'd start with that poem, "For Isra
...more
Jonathan Tennis
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A friend suggested this collection after hearing an NPR interview. I had just read about Zamora in Poets & Writers so dropped what else I was reading to pick this up. While I loved the subject matter and his delivery, I think there are significant things I missed by not speaking Spanish (there are portions of poems in Spanish with no translation that I simply didn’t want to Google to understand what he was saying). Even with that, great collection and enjoyable read. My faves were: To Abueli ...more
Antonio Paola
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More than ever, this book is a calling to our country’s newly set directives toward immigration and our country’s new, but certainly not unified, mantra, all-borders-closed policy. This not the United States I was raised in or raised to believe in!


As Javier Zamora says “I think in the United States we forget that writing and carrying the banner of ‘being a poet’ is tied into a long history of people who have literally risked [their lives] and died to write these words.”
Chaze Copeland
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing collection of poetry by Javier Zamora, who I had the pleasure of meeting during the 2018 AWP Conference. There are some phenomenal pieces in this book; some brutally aware and full-bodied lines that hit you in the gut with a closed fist.

The themes faced involve the current political climates of the US and El Salvador, the history and scars of war, the plight of immigration, separation of family, the stripping of evolution of identity, the role home plays in self, and many more.

Here are
...more
Cindy Leighton
"I'll be back soon mijo-
but in our windows still no glass,
when raindrops hit the sill
they touch my skin like her eyes did
that morning she said
I'll be back soon mijo."

To what extent is immigration really a choice, when your homeland is filled with war and gang violence, and your children hungry? Powerful collection of poems by Zamora who immigrated to the US from El Salvador, beautifully capturing the pain of families torn apart by immigration - who can not go back and still return, who don't
...more
Ruth
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's a compelling disorientation to the poems in this collection that mirrors the visceral experience of the speaker, displaced from his home, crossing the border into the U.S. illegally to reunite with parents who have become like strangers. There's also a longing for home that pervades. For the most part, the poems eschew dense poetic imagery, almost as if Zamora wants to sketch out the experience bare bones, not allowing the reader into any symbolic escape.
Patti K
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A Salvadoran-American poet published (2017) his memories of the long
trek from Salvador to the US at age nine. Zamora tries here to recreate
the baffling hard experience of many years past. The poems are raw,
emotional, and highlight the hardships of all immigrants who risk their
lives to escape poverty-ridden violence and suffering in their own country.
They are forever caught in a limbo between their birth country and their new
country of hope mixed with despair. Recommend highly.
Ali
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-poetry-list
As is often the case for me, I don’t know how to rate this book. There’s a lot in it I don’t understand but I think it is a remarkable collection of poetry. Javier Zamora writes about immigration, family, home, exile, abuse, love, fear in poems that contain both Spanish and English. His poems have given me a meaningful look into another’s experience.
Laura Dabrowski
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Powerful book . Also enlightening when I looked at my public library and saw the miniscule section on Central or South American poets and authors (nothing since Neruda, ) and the lack of books covering contemporary political or social issues there. We are stuck in a Conquistador timewarp....)

jennyoseach
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
An aching, beautiful collection of poems chronicling an immigrant's experience crossing into the United States. Zamora has an arresting poetic voice and I'm eager to hear more from him.

My favorite poems were "the Pier of La Herradura," "Vows," and "I. [I wasn't born here...]", though there are powerful lines in many others.
Julie
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved how the author transported me into the world of his childhood and showed me both the beauty and the horror. From, "Sagura," one of my favorites:
"It was dusk for kilometers and bats in the lavender sky,
like spiders when a fly is caught, began to appear.
And there, not the promised land but barbwire and barbwire"
IE
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I can't be objective in this review. I saw Javier in person, got an autograph, and I guess that radically changed how I began and ended with the book. And as a migrant myself, there was so much about this book that resonated. They were like stories from a long lost friend.
Will
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zamora's poems are gorgeous powerful reflections on personal experiences as an immigrant to the United States. His poems are beautiful and affecting. I found myself especially drawn to his comparisons and metaphors. I think "The Pier of La Herradura" was my favorite. Highly recommend!
Alyse
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
from: Abuelita Neli's Garden with Parakeets Named Chepito

"Grandpa cuts our parakeet's wings and dips our moons
in vodka. Truth is, before I drowned
Chepito the fourth, I asked him if he remembered
the eggshell he broke. Abuelita, will your forget
the veins on the back of Grandpa's hands?"
Joseph Delgado
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant
Alana
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I could bore you with the sunset, the way water tasted/ after so many days without it"
Carla Sofia Ferreira
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rigorous and attentive, poems of great endurance.
Ellenh
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, politics
While poetry is not generally my thing, this was a good read! One cannot imagine the life this young man had crossing 2 countries on his own!
Emma
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2019
*Actual rating is a 3.5*

An important look at the impact immigration has on individuals, families, and communities. Unaccompanied is a well-crafted collection of poems.
Kookie
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I just don't get poetry. Go read the review of someone who does.
Neha
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The majority of the poems in this collection are breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly moving. -1 star because a few poems I feel were unnecessary. Highly recommend!
Fran
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
some real beautiful poems here though felt an interesting (intentional, I imagine) distance from him as a poet. wish it had fucked with form a little more?
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  • Lessons on Expulsion
  • Afterland
  • I Know Your Kind: Poems
  • Eye Level: Poems
  • Thousand Star Hotel
  • Not Here
  • The Black Maria
  • Four Reincarnations: Poems
  • Place: New Poems
  • Slow Lightning
  • Bringing the Shovel Down
  • In the Language of My Captor
  • Sharks in the Rivers
  • Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems
  • Like a Beggar
  • Rocket Fantastic: Poems
  • Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing
  • The January Children
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