Thrown in the Throat
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2020
A Lambda Literary “Most Anticipated LGBTQ Book” of August 2020
Named a “Must-Read Poetry Collection” of August 2020 by The Millions
“Tongues make mistakes / and mistakes / make languages.” And Benjamin Garcia makes a stunning debut with Thrown in the Throat. In a sex-positive incantation that retextures what it is to write a queer life amidst troubled times, Garcia writes boldly of citizenship, family, and Adam Rippon’s butt. Detailing a childhood spent undocumented, one speaker recalls nights when “because we cannot sleep / we dream with open eyes.” Garcia delves with both English and Spanish into how one survives a country’s long love affair with anti-immigrant cruelty. Rendering a family working to the very end to hold each other, he writes the kind of family you both survive and survive with.
With language that arrives equal parts regal and raucous, Thrown in the Throat shines brilliant with sweat and an iridescent voice. “Sometimes even a diamond was once alive” writes Garcia in a collection that National Poetry Series judge Kazim Ali says “has deadly superpowers.” And indeed these poems arrive to our hands through touch-me-nots and the slight cruelty of mothers, through closets both real and metaphorical. These are poems complex, unabashed, and needed as survival. Garcia’s debut is nothing less than exactly the ode our history and present and our future call for: brash and unmistakably alive.
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Praise and Prizes
"Garcia’s intra-line breaks feel more pronounced than commas; I hear them almost the way I hear Notley’s quotation marks, a mental glottal stop; a visual fake punch to make you flinch. This 'sound' is important for both meaning and rhythm; take this line, from 'Heroin With an E': 'when all of what had to have happened // happened.' This pause feels loud, loud and more sudden than the pause of an ellipsis, not a trailing off or a vague omission but a slam, decisive, like a palm on a table."
“Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia is an unabashed celebration of complexity in queerness and gender, an arresting snapshot of survival and a triumphant reclamation of language.”
"Deft and nimble, the outstanding debut Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia will both delight a reader and reinvent their understanding of the English language."
"Angry, tender, & resounding with the speech of flowers, birds, & diamonds, every syllable carries a glorious charge."
“Much will be written, I suspect, about the many identities that Benjamin Garcia explores in his debut collection, Thrown in the Throat . . . But I hope that in the process, reviewers don’t overlook the lyrical inventiveness and formal prowess that Garcia displays in these poems. It’s that melding of craft and subject and language that makes this an extraordinary collection.”
“Electrifying . . . With exhilarating candor, Thrown in the Throat explores unrepentant sexual desire, interrogates fraught familial relationships, and examines our troubled cultural moment.”
"Thrown in the Throat is a rich space that honors the textured beauty of queer sex and the resilience of undocumented and migrant peoples against state violence where family is both refuge and the people who can hurt us the most."
“One thing becomes clear when reading Thrown in the Throat, Benjamin Garcia's debut poetry collection: this work isn't afraid to test boundaries or borders . . . Thrown in the Throat reminds us of the powerful, life-giving energy of self-invention. When we are allowed to define ourselves in our own terms, it seems to tell us, we become free.”
“'Nothing I have done has been on my own. Our communities—we—have been resisting together.' That collective spirit anchors 'Warrior Song' . . . and Garcia’s entire collection . . . These poems affirm identity through distinction, and offer the narrator power.”
“Thrown in the Throat is the book we need right now: playful and gutting, queer and formally extensive, Garcia’s work resists the colonization of language . . . It’s a phenomenal debut that proves Garcia’s 'throat is [a] throne,' a poetics of reclamation and sensual pleasure. Yield to and rejoice in this ferocious, life-affirming voice.”
“Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia speaks in tongues—tongues as vehicles of language, oppression, expression and desire; tongues full of humor and wordplay whose light touch add weight to larger issues of loss and memory and agency. This is a voice that conveys confidence and pride even as it illuminates a feeling of otherness . . . Garcia crowns these poems with a masterful diction and sophistication of turn and image that shows his poetry will reign for a long time.”
“The poems are funny, sexy, critical and consistent in their attempts to study how narratives can limit identity expression . . . These odes read as celebrations of kink, of queerness, of 'maneaters' and drag queens.”
“[Thrown in the Throat] pulses with electricity and sex, with humor and joy, anger and hope. Queer feelings, diaspora, smelly cheese, styrofoam — all of it is rendered here in poems that grab at the heart.”
“Sometimes you find a book so good you wished to have written it. Better even than that is when you find a book you know you couldn’t have written, had neither the emotional resources nor technical approaches to have written. For me, Thrown in the Throat is such a book; it has deadly superpowers, upending all my old-school queer feelings of shame and belligerence. Instead it gloriously stakes new territory in queerness. Camp has always been on the other side of the coin from death, but in Benjamin Garcia’s debut, fierce life demands its due. These poems are heir to a lineage that might include Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Please Master’ or Mark Doty’s ‘Homo Will Not Inherit’ or Rebecca Byrkit’s ‘Whoa.’ Rather than any Grecian urn teaching a reader about truth and beauty, here we find the visceral and immediate energy of contemporary life. Here it is not the archaic torso, a ruin of the past, but the voluptuous kinetic power of Adam Rippon’s rear end in all its triple-axel glory that enjoins the reader to change their life. When a poet whose arsenal includes bliss, jouissance, and adulterated pleasure commands it, you better listen. Crown him, yes.”
“This book is a slut. Immigrant smut, propaganda for the fag agenda. Wonderstruck, I tuck this book deep and close. Benjamin Garcia’s freaky, stunning debut decimates and salivates over language like a good switch. Moving language around. Moving language out the way. Being moved. Vers(e). How can you not love how this poet loves, how these poems hate and revenge and lurk? Twerk? Too easy. How they buck, bottom, and frot. They take lemons and let them be fucking lemons. Screw the sweet. Thrown in the Throat doesn’t hide what’s bitter. It crowns it.”
“In his inventive and daring debut, Benjamin Garcia confesses ‘my mouth has many uses: / eat, sing, bite, kiss, but most of all / insinuate.’ He gleefully tongues words; muscles syllables into sonic-rich lines attuned to public and private dictions, histories. I love his unrepentant and acrobatic language. This collection is furiously queer, ecstatic, bilingual, sarcastic. It refutes shame and doesn’t plea for forgiveness. Thrown in the Throat is a spectacular debut that’ll be studied and read for a long time.”
“Benjamin Garcia’s Thrown in the Throat bites with acidity, sexiness, and a fearless wit that carves a fascinating world where diamonds scatter across corpse flowers and pitcher plants, the stings of a man-of-war unearth the difference between venom and poison, and a boy lives in a closet that transforms into the glass shell of an enormous sea snail. Language is often the target of Garcia’s interrogations, and in the process of exposing it as a colonial tool, he molds its awe and messiness into his own ammunition. In these heartbreaking and funny poems, Garcia investigates what makes a son, queer and brown, in an America where the white star on a Texas flag is also ‘the open throat of a cottonmouth.’ This superb debut aims for all of our throats, and (hell yes!) we let it.”
“Benjamin Garcia’s stunning full-length debut, Thrown in the Throat, [is] a collection that swaggers, sweats and sings through a first-person lyric that explores the politics of identity, from sexuality to that of the immigrant, challenging the role and the question of who exactly is the outsider . . . I’m rather amazed at the strength of this debut by such a witty, smart and sly poet.”