Beacon Press: An Incomplete List of Names
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An Incomplete List of Names


Author: Michael Torres   Foreword by: Raquel Salas Rivera

An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.

Who do we belong to? This is the question Michael Torres ponders as he explores the roles that names, hometown, language, and others’ perceptions each play on our understanding of ourselves in An Incomplete List of Names. More than a boyhood ballad or a coming-of-age story, this collection illuminates the artist’s struggle to make sense of the disparate identities others have forced upon him.

His description of his childhood is both idyllic and nightmarish, sometimes veering between the two extremes, sometimes a surreal combination of both at once. He calls himself “the Pachuco’s grandson” or REMEK or Michael, depending on the context, and others follow his lead. He worries about losing his identification card, lest someone mistake his brown skin for evidence of a crime he never committed. He wonders what his students—imprisoned men who remind him of his high school friends and his own brother—make of him. He wonders how often his neighbors think about where he came from, if they ever do imagine where he came from.

When Torres returns to his hometown to find the layers of spray-painted evidence he and his boyhood friends left behind to prove their existence have been washed away by well-meaning municipal workers, he wonders how to collect a list of names that could match the eloquent truths those bubbled letters once secured.

About the Series

Established in 1978, the National Poetry Series is a literary awards program which sponsors the publication of five books of poetry each year. The manuscripts, solicited through an annual Open Competition, are selected by poets of national stature and published by a distinguished group of trade, university, and small presses.
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“[A] standout first collection . . . Torres steps into the sphere of such clarion American poets as Luis Rodriguez, Raúl Salinas, Juan Felipe Herrea, and Carlos Cumpián. His is a welcome voice in the chorus telling the essential story of the Latinx experience of home.”

“A study of crossing cultures written with affecting urgency.”
Library Journal

“Many of these poems are remarkable for their dramatic tension, even as they reflect on ambitious questions of language, privilege, and power. . . .In this accomplished volume, language can be the ‘thick glass between us,’ impeding connection and understanding, but Torres’s writing offers a vision that is startling and far-reaching.”
Publishers Weekly

“In his magnificent enumerations; his allegiances; his ordeals of self, figure, and desire, Michael Torres gives us an uncharted and ‘incomplete,’ ever-flaming matrix of being and becoming a brown man, a person in an unknown America. Incredible, truth-fisted, shattering, groundbreaking.”
—Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Imagine

“This spectacular collection of acutely conscious poems awakens readers to our universal need to belong. . . . He speaks to the constant naming and renaming of the self and others at the intersection of multiple identities and perceptions through an arresting voice that is provocative yet vulnerable, urban yet serene, mournful yet buoyant.”
—Richard Blanco, author of How to Love a Country

“With poems that drop like beads of acid on paper, sizzling away first impressions and assumptions, revealing in their burning wake the underlayer of truth, and how it, after years, still smarts and bleeds and blossoms in us. I love this book more than I have any other book in a long time . . . celebrating our duality, the multitudinous breadth and depth of our varied and bounteous humanity.”
—Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand

“Absence doesn’t simply haunt Michael Torres’s poems: it blazes through them. . . . Torres is an exhilarating writer, a virtuoso who lets us hear what language can erase and create—while making it sing.”
—Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine

Foreword by Raquel Salas Rivera

Doing Donuts in an ’87 Mustang 5.0, after My Homie Chris Gets Broken Up With

All-American Mexican

Hired as Professional Mourner at Funeral

The Pachuco’s Grandson Smokes His First Cigarette after Contemplating Masculinity

The Flame

Minutes, at the Health Clinic

Learning to Box

[Mexican] America

On Being REMEK

Down | I



The Very Short Story of Your Knuckles

Teaching at the Prison in December

The Pachuco’s Grandson Considers Skipping School

Because My Brother Knows Why It’s Called County Blues, but Won’t Tell Me

After José Clemente Orozco’s Man of Fire

Down | II

[White] America

My Brother Is Asking for Stamps

All-American Mexican

Suspended from School, the Pachuco’s Grandson Watches Happy Days While His Homie Fulfills Prophecy

Stop Looking at My Last Name Like That

Down | III

After the Man Who Found Me Doing Burpees at the Park Said: “I Can Tell You Learned Those on the Inside.”

Ars Poetica

My Hometown as a Man Riding a Bicycle with No Chain

My Neighbor Who Keeps the Dying Things


Elegy with Puppet Strings

From My Classroom Window at the Prison, before Students Arrive

The Pachuco’s Grandson Considers the Silversun Pickups’ Album Diana Lent Him When They Last Spoke Seven Years Ago


All-American Mexican

Elegy with Roll Call


Acknowledgments, Thank-Yous, and Shout-Outs

An Incomplete List of Names

ISBN: 978-080704674-6
Publication Date: 10/6/2020
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $15.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.