Zamora’s debut cradles within it a family’s risky song of longing and love for a country torn apart by war and gang violence. These poems recall and are rooted in the experiences of a nine-year-old boy traveling alone for thousands of miles and confronting everywhere the realities of borderland politics, racism, and economic injustice. Calling into question the concept of the American Dream, Zamora reimagines home, fusing music and memory to address the quandaries that tear families apart and—if we’re lucky—inspire the building of lives anew.
Says Javier Zamora, “I think in the United States we forget that writing and carrying the banner of ‘being a poet’ is tied into a long history of people who have literally risked [their lives] and died to write those words.”
“Zamora details his experience emigrating from El Salvador to the U.S. at age nine in his timely and excellent debut, a heartbreaking account of leaving behind the grandmother who raised him to join parents he barely remembered.” —Publishers Weekly
“Zamora insists that the stories he houses in his blood deserve to be told, and in the telling he has created a truly astonishing debut.” —Rodney Gomez, Latino Book Review
“In [Nueve Años Immigrantes], he writes about living apart from his parents and then traveling alone over 4,000 miles across multiple borders to reunite with them as a nine-year-old. My students, Salvadoran in background or not, were amazed—they saw themselves and heard their families’ stories in these poems. Someone who looked and lived like them—young, immigrant, and undocumented—had written a book.” —Zócalo Public Square
“Although Javier Zamora was only 21 when he released his first acclaimed chapbook, the sophistication in these poems belies that fact. Every line resonates with a wind that crosses oceans.” —Jamaal May, Organic Weapon Arts
“Zamora’s work is real life turned into myth and myth made real life.” —Glappitnova
“By finding the language to describe the hardships of the Salvadoran Civil War, the nightmares of migration that seem to plague all Salvadorans, Zamora has begun the process of healing deep emotional scars…” —Muzzle Magazine