Winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series Competition, selected by Cornelius Eady--an exploration in verse of imperial appropriation and Mexican American cultural identity
The poems in J. Michael Martinez's third collection of poetry circle around how the perceived body comes to be allegorically coded with the transhistorical consequences of an imperial sociopolitical narrative. Engaging eighteenth-century Mexican casta paintings, the morbid lynching postcards of William Horne, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and Martinez's own family lineage, Museum of the Americas traces an aesthetic out of racialized scenes of corporeal excess. Hybrid in form, Museum of the Americas voices itself in theory, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Throughout, Martinez questions how "knowledge" of the body is organized through an observer's visual perception of that body. For Martinez, the corporeal always serves as a repository of the human situation, a nexus of culture. His work revives and repurposes the persecuted ethnic body from the biopolitical appropriations that render it a disposable aesthetic object.