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Catalog Archive / Spring 2024

How to Kill a Goat and Other Monsters

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Sean Bishop and Jesse Lee Kercheval, Series Editors
Ronald Wallace, Founding Series Editor

“Hernández wields surrealism as a weapon against displacement and alienation, or as he himself might say, ‘I learned how to kiss a man easy / when he held a gun to my neck.’ Through stark juxtapostions such as this, Hernández manages to honor the fact of his ancestry while bravely confronting the possibility of having been abandoned by ancestors. This is a brilliant debut. ”
—Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition

No one told me hunger & heartache feel the same.

One is never sure who the monsters are in these poems, only that the narrator desperately doesn’t want to be one. In his brilliant debut collection, Hernández explores grief, loss, identity, lineage, and belonging with grace, insight, and compassion.

These pages are infused with comfort, with desire, with heartache. Never absent is love, family. Hernández—hyperaware of American society’s dismissal or hatred of people who look like him—writes with a refreshing confidence, a sure knowledge of who he is and where he comes from. Transcending any particular experience, this volume will continue to resonate with multiple readings.

he says I deserve someone who will love me the way
I love him. I want to kiss him, tell him love isn’t measured.
I squeeze his hand instead, afraid of the thought of anyone looking at us
from the outside of my car.
—Excerpt from “Defying the Dangers of Being”


Saúl Hernández. Photo credit, Bradley Miller. Saúl Hernández is a queer writer from San Antonio, Texas, who was raised by undocumented parents and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. He’s the winner of a Pleiades Prufer Poetry Prize, judged by Joy Priest; and a Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, chosen by Victoria Chang. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.



“In this frank collection, Saúl Hernández documents grief alongside trauma, queer desire, and familial love; ‘sometimes to survive you have to transform,’ Hernández writes, and here we witness how one survives sexual abuse, the loss of beloveds, and various deaths within a family. Mathematics serves as a kind of water logic, a dream logic through which Hernández makes sense of his history: ‘a fraction to me means leaving traces of my culture behind, or how embarrassing it is to say—My parents are from Mexico, as in my parents are undocumented, as if to say they came here to give me a country that wants me dead.’ Juxtaposed with this math are explorations of the erotic border between violence and lust, vulnerability and tenderness. These poems course like lightning across the sky, illuminating both water and land below.”
—Diana Khoi Nguyen

“The mouth, tongue, and hand feature prominently in Hernández’s collection. Indeed, these compelling poems kiss and bite, tell startling secrets and whisper with affection. They sometimes caress and sometimes strike. What he so eloquently calls ‘the language of grief’ pulses at the body’s intersection of language and desire, ethnicity and sexuality, vulnerable youth and empowered adulthood. What a stunning debut.”
—Rigoberto González



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Table of Contents

In Another Life

First Wave
The Boy Who Lives in Dreams
Notes on Sueñitos
Amá Sees Fireflies
13 Reasons Why Apá Fears Water
At Night My Body Waits
Defying the Dangers of Being

Second Wave
The Boy y El Hombre Que se Comió El Relámpago
Dear Iván
That’s Not My Name
When a Body Is Dragged
La Doppelgänger
What Is a Cycle if Not a Circle
For My Queer Ancestors

Third Wave
The Boy & The Story of Water
Meditation on Grief
Notes on Dividing Fractions
Pushing My Name Down Their Bodies
How to Outline a Body: Fragments after Tatarabuela Ignacia’s Passing
Water Runs Too
Ars Poética for a First G(ay)eneration Mexican American
The Rio Grande Speaks

Fourth Wave
The Boy & The Sound of Himself
This Is Why I Fall Fast
The Girl & The Northern Lights
The Loquat Trees & The Boy Next Door
How to Find the Distance between Two Points
My Love Would Have Killed You
Breath Is a Body at War

Fifth Wave
The Boy & The Lineage of Dreams
When Dreams Come True
Illusion of Light
Strand of a Memory
This Is How I Fight
The Dance inside My Abuela
Listening for Submergence
How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters



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March 2024
122 pp. 7 x 9

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Paper $16.95
ISBN 9780299347840
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