All My Heroes Are Broke

by Ariel Francisco

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ALL MY HEROES ARE BROKE is a poetry collection written from the perspective of a first generation American coming to terms with the implicit struggles and disillusionment of the “American Dream.” The first section takes place in New York, both implicitly and explicitly, and serves to introduce the speaker and reveal aspects of his family’s history. The second section takes place in Florida, and continues to further exemplify the speaker’s growing cynicism towards the circumstances of his life, and the peculiar atmosphere of solitude that it creates. ALL MY HEROES ARE BROKE primarily uses two forms: short, image driven poems inspired by the works of Robert Bly and Po Chu-I; and longer narrative poems that reveal more personal information about the speaker, in the manner of Li-Young Lee and Frank O’Hara, allowing the speaker to project his own life onto the surroundings and the people of those larger communities.

 

HYPE

Ariel Francisco is the quintessential poet’s poet, by which I mean poetry is his constant, necessary companion. His speaker is always reading—Keats, Basho, Lorca, James Wright, Tu Fu, Emily Dickinson, Bukowski, and others—in bars and on subways, on balconies and at breakfast tables, in Miami and New York City. Francisco knows life is both preposterous and sublime, sometimes simultaneously, and his meditations will dazzle you. Perceptive, wise, and enduring, these poems will become necessary companions to all those who read All My Heroes Are Broke. I predict the very best of the next generation will write poems with titles like “Reading Ariel Francisco on the Metromover.”

—Denise Duhamel, author of Scald

All My Heroes Are Broke is a collection of poems as pure and down-to-earth as a sack of gold nuggets. At the same time, it is a book that leaps—like Basho’s frog—into the still pool of the image, casting marvelous rings across its surface. Ariel Francisco is a poet of witness and compassion, whose voice is a necessary tonic for these disheartening times.

—Campbell McGrath author of XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century

In a piece I kept returning to, the speaker attempts to detonate a long-lost cousin’s memorable “nasty temper” as a way to determine if, in fact, it’s him by not leaving a tip: “not a single dollar,/hoping he’ll be so pissed off/he’ll confront me.” Thus, the poem ends with a provocation as an act of love. All My Heroes Are Broke is, on the one hand, a vivid love-letter to the New York and Florida of one family’s vital trajectory which, a couple of generations prior, launched from the Dominican Republic. And the other, it’s a “Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man” with brilliant homages to a rich spectrum of poetic heroes. The method is mostly discursive, but with a tercet-driven artistry that took hold of me and wouldn’t let go as I read it straight through on a bus from Washington, D.C. to Manhattan!. Loved it.

—Francisco Aragón, editor of The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry