By Priyanka Ray
In 2021, Beacon expanded our poetry program, adding both new and established poets to sit alongside the classic masters—including James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, and Sonia Sanchez—who have long been an essential part of our catalog. The series, Raised Voices, serves the overarching goals of raising marginalized voices and perspectives, publishing poems that affirm progressive values and are accessible to a wide readership, and celebrating poetry’s ability to access truth in a way no other form can.
Beacon has published four books in the series: Achy Obejas’s Boomerang/Bumerán; Raquel Salas Rivera’s antes que isla es volcán/before island is volcano; Aaron Caycedo-Kimura’s Common Grace; and Tim Z. Hernandez’s Some of the Light. In Spring 2024, we will add M. Nzadi Keita’s Migration Letters to our list.
Coverage for Raised Voices has been extensive. The poem “What’s Kept Alive” from Common Grace was featured in one of my favorite podcasts, Poetry Unbound. Raquel Salas Rivera was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered for National Poetry Month. The Poetry Foundation called Boomerang/Bumerán “political poetry at its finest,” and Tim Z. Hernandez discussed his journey through single fatherhood in an interview with People en Español. Collections in the Raised Voices series have also been covered on Poets.org, The Rumpus, WGBH, Ms. Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Poem-A-Day, Guernica, and more. Excerpts have appeared in outlets such as The Atlantic, The Nation, American Poets Magazine, The Oxford American, and LitHub.
Boomerang/Bumerán is a unique and inspiring bilingual collection of lyrical poetry written in a bold, mostly gender-free English and Spanish that addresses immigration, displacement, love, and activism. Achy Obejas is a Cuban American writer, translator, and activist whose work focuses on personal and national identity. Her story collection, The Tower of the Antilles, was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and her novel, Days of Awe, was called one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times.
antes que isla es volcán/before island is volcano is a bilingual Spanish–English poetry collection about the future of Puerto Rico, including speculative pieces on what its independence would look like. Raquel Salas Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. The author of five full-length poetry books, his work has won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry and has been nominated for the National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award.
The lyric and political poems in Some of the Light: New and Selected Poems evoke single fatherhood, life in the time of COVID, children imprisoned in detainment facilities at the US/Mexico border, and life in California’s San Joaquin valley. Tim Z. Hernandez is an award-winning poet, novelist, research scholar, and performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax, received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation.
Common Grace is a three-part collection of poems that explore the author’s life and art, the death of his parents (told loosely through the lens of ubasute, a mythical Japanese tradition wherein the son delivers his aged mother to a mountain and leaves her to die), and his close relationship with his wife. Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, a poet and visual artist, is the author of the chapbook Ubasute, winner of the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition; he is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life.
Migration Letters is a poetry collection that reflects on intimate aspects of Black history, culture, and identity, revealing an uncommon gaze on working-class Philadelphia in vibrant lyric detail. M. Nzadi Keita is a poet, essayist, scholar, and teacher. Her most recent poetry collection, Brief Evidence of Heaven—a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Poetry Prize—sheds light on Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s first wife, and is cited by David Blight in his prize-winning biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
About the Author
Priyanka Ray is the assistant publicist at Beacon Press. She joined Beacon’s publicity team in October 2020 after graduating from Boston University with a BA in English. Previously, Priyanka interned at Beacon and worked at BU’s Community Service Center and Writing Center. Outside the office, she enjoys roller skating, reading murder mysteries, and karaoke.