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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  378 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Selected by Ross Gay as winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, Analicia Sotelo's debut collection of poems is a vivid portrait of the artist as a young woman.

In Virgin, Sotelo walks the line between autobiography and mythmaking, offering up identities like dishes at a feast. These poems devour and complicate tropes of femininity--of naivete, of careless abandon
Paperback, 95 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Milkweed Editions
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  378 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked from the first poem, "Do You Speak Virgin?" from this impressive debut collection by Analicia Sotelo.

My favorites included:
"Ariadne's Guide to Getting a Man"
"My Mother & the Parable of the Lemons"
"My English Victorian Dating Troubles."

What I like about them - the way they feel
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great collection of poems reflecting on how a young woman comes to find her place in the world and love herself. Many of the poems use the Ariadne myth as a basis, but others relate to art and her Mexican American culture.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To admit I love you would be to admit

I love ideas more than men,
myself even less than ideas.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"I dream the scent
of my mother's lipstick
has come back to haunt me---
like an oil pastel
my dreary, dramatic heart."

I loved this collection. The poems gained momentum as I read, and I read the very last one, The Ariadne Year, four times in a row. I love how she blends heartache and humor and beauty, and I love how I feel like I got some sense of who she is, like she opened a window into her mind, her soul. I don't always feel that with poetry, but I
Maddie C.
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"How’s my birthday lamb? Oh, brutal. Delicious."
Aug 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Yeah, this was one of those books where the author tries to make everything sound sophisticated. I kept thinking maybe I was just too dumb to understand it and that's why I thought it was bad....... I asked three friends to read parts of it and they also thought it was bad. It's big pass on this on if you ask me.
Nadine Jones
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
2.5 stars

Sotelo has a very youthful voice. There is promise here and I’d like to see what she publishes in the future, but I found this collection was uneven, and didn’t really “speak” to me.

Private Property
In this minor emergency of the self,
we drink to become confused,
to swim in the dark like idiot fish.

This is a lake at night in a forest.

This is where we look up at the stains
in the sky and someone says, It’s purpling out here,
and someone else/>
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018, poetry
This is a book with serious poems that interweave remnants from classic Western mythology, Catholic imagery, and Mexican American experiences.
But the whole collection was worth reading to be surprised/tickled by these lines:
"See, there is a white man
in every single one of us.
Yes, everyone is wearing casual yacht wear now
& mispronouncing their specialty condiments
O gentlemen
I am the angel/whore of kale chips"

Anyway, my favorites are "I'm Trying to Write a Poem a
Matt Ely
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I appreciated the multiplicity of styles, sometimes letting words languish and drag, other times pushing one after another. Her titles work incredibly well as a supplement to the poem itself, with examples like "I'm trying to write a poem about a virgin and it's awful," setting the tone that helpfully contrasts with a series inspired by Greek myth. I read this volume quickly for school, but it deserves more time than I gave it, and there are large sections I would like to return to at a slower p ...more
Aug 15, 2019 added it
My favorite section in the collection is the one titled, MYTH, which features poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and the Minotaur.

Favorite poems include, "South Texas Persephone" and "Ariadne Discusses Theseus in Relation to the Minotaur."

"We're all performing our bruises." (p.20)

"When they said Virgin, they meant Version we've left behind." (p.23)

"That's what marriage is like, you know,
someone is always well prepared

for the sacrifice,
Brianna Albers
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I knew I was going to like this but dang son
Kayla Zacharias
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't read a lot of poetry, but I thought this was okay. There's some good stuff about male toxicity here.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I hang back on the shore with Kyle. / We talk about his man in New York / while our skinny-dipping sirens / sing show tunes in the violet dark."

Sarah Koppelkam
Not a lot of this stuck with me, so I guess it's not a top pick for me. That said, Sotelo is a fierce female voice. I like thinking about this alongside "The Poet X" by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Aloysiusi Lionel
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book (actually, an e-book sent by the generous Mark Anthony Cayanan) reminds me of the films Ladybird and The Little Hours, both of which were released in 2017, explored how a woman's knowledge and intimacy with her own sexuality can render her vulnerable once and powerful ever, and instructed men on how to look at a woman: not with elation for the giftedness of the body, but with fascination for the outspokenness of the mind. "Now I have three heads: one / for speech, one for sex, / and on ...more
Lexi Nylander
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved this. I love the feel and the intensity. My favorite sections was Myth with Parable being a close second. My favorite poems were Theseus at the Naxos Apartment Complex, 6 am, Death Wish, Ariadne Discusses Theseus in Relation to the Minotaur, and Father Fragments (or, Yellow Ochre).

"When a man tells you he is a monster, believe him. When a man says you will get hurt, leave. Get into a boat, out onto a sea that everyone owns."

"and everyone knows the best kinds of sh
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of poems. Sotelo has a good handle on that poetic voice that is at once conversational and at the same time takes wild, exaggerated lyric turns that include striking imagery that is outside of the usual conversational range, or at least mine is. Given the title, it's probably not too big a shock that this book is interested in interrogating questions of female identity and desire, and it does this through five or six short cycles of poems. The figures of Theseus, Ariad ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it

This poetry collection by local Houston poet, Analicia Sotelo, was described as being centered around Latina sexuality. It read as a coming of age and reflective collection, with situational rather than abstract imagery (the ability to include themes of femininity within a poem about Texas BBQ was particularly impressive!). I really enjoyed it and felt it engaged and connected with the reader really quickly with the use of first person voice. This was a really refreshing read and I felt like it
May 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ross Gay calls Sotelo's collection of poems a "performance of a kind of bruise, or bruising" and describes the poems as "leaning into the many registers of heartbreak." I think these poems would have appealed to me in my youth. The book takes the (usually) female's speaker's pain and makes it the center of the universe. The poet describes pain with imagery from classical mythology, religion, and nature. The poems dwell in the pain, even celebrate it. But, for me, poems like these languish with a ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2018
At its core, Virgin is a book of the myths surrounding the heart: the myth of who a bittersweet single girl has been she has been: “People think I’m sweet… look now: my heart // is a fist of barbed wire” (8, 18), myth of those she'd once desired, myth of unreachable fathers, urban legends behind the likes of Frieda Kahlo, and traditional myths, rooted in Ariadne and Theseus.
Sotelo explores the feminine, specifically the bittersweet single girl in all her conflicted, tired-of-your-bullshit, lovi
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This collection's title announces a balancing act: Sotelo is trying to navigate both the stark world of sexual politics and the richly allusive potential of Catholic mythology. Unfortunately, though there are poems in this volume where these things come together in a perfect collusion of image and intellect (my favorite, "Summer Barbecue with Two Men," is frankly gorgeous), most of the poems in this collection fall too far on one side of that line for my taste, ending up either sounding like a salvo ...more
"Virgin" feels intimate on many layers, simultaneously biting and soothing. Sotelo gives the reader wisdom without making it sound that way and without being imposing in the process. Each consecutive poem draws you in deeper, and I began to question where the boundaries between myself, Sotelo, and womanhood were. Bare, honest, and clever, "Virgin" does away with cliches and exaggerations. These are genuine, pulsing poems, ones you can feel in your heart and mouth simultaneously, ones that make y ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Analicia Sotelo is the first winner of the new Jake Adam York Prize for this debut poetry collection, and she is a deserving winner. I particularly love how these poems take contemporary situations and weave them together with mythological figures, famous artists, and other more timeless elements. These poems are accessible without being dumbed down. Here’s a heartbreaking fragment from the poem “South Texas Persephone”:

In the bar, we'll dance to a song I hate,
but I'll cling to
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Eh, didn't really connect with this one. Lots of subpar Plath karaoke, randomly dispersed line breaks in occasionally interesting-sounding but ultimately meaning-free and slippery prose, a surfeit of boring and facile autobiography, an overarching lack of rigor. Perhaps unfairly, as I read I think I began to hold Virgin up as the avatar for everything that annoys me about contemporary poetry. I did think that the quality picked up considerably in the latter sections that dealt more with mytholog ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some favorite quotes:

But he's right outside.
Not right for me, but right outside.

Now I have three heads: one for speech, one for sex, and one for second guessing.

If you do marry, marry well
Or marry never.
And remember:
A mother will always love you,
But a man can draw you in.

Grow up even more, to the point where nothing fits.

Let us not get coffee.
Let us not sit so close to each other
That we can't tell which thoughts are truly private. I am tired
Of undressing to no comment,
Courtney LeBlanc
May 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
This collection is okay, unfortunately I didn't connect with most of the poems, though there were a few I really loved. My favorite in the collection is "My Mother as the Voice of Kahlo": "Her grief is constant & irreparable // like the crown of fresh flowers / she killed each day // See the instinct for painting is the instinct for power"

from Trauma with a Second Chance at Humiliation: "To admit I love you would be to admit // I love ideas more than men, myself even less than id
Lynsy • Little Book Jockey
Full review at Little Book Jockey. It’s always hard for me to review or rate poetry. It’s easy if I either love it or hate it, but for me this collection falls somewhere in the middle, although I did love a few lines. I think I couldn’t relate to many of the poems, which isn’t a fault of Sotelo’s or mine–it just happens sometimes in poetry and literature. And that’s okay.
Jenny McDougal
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
part historian part myth-maker, sotelo leans hard into all kinds of heartbreak: familial, platonic, mythic, and passionate. what makes this collection soar is her wit and precision, 'virgin' is pure pleasure, a sweet kind of bruising.
Sophia Emille
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Analicia writes so effortlessly with such eloquence and honesty, immediately pulling you in with the opening poem and keeping you close all the way to the very last page of the book. A beautifully unique examination of one's life and womanhood.
Anneke Alnatour
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: female-author
Yeah. No. I could not get into this. Maybe my world and experiences are not in sync with what the author was trying to convey, but it just did not resonate with me. I tried very hard, it just wasn't there. But at the same time I could see how this could work for someone else.
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“I want to know what's coming in the afterlife
before I sign off on arguments
in the kitchen & the sight of him
fleeing to the car
once he sees how far & wide,
how dark & deep
this frigid female mind can go.”
“I dream the scent
of my mother's lipstick
has come back to haunt me—
like an oil pastel
my dreary, dramatic heart.”
More quotes…