Poetry by Sebastian Agudelo

Each Chartered Street

$15.00 Paper, 978-0-98133686-9-4 • 2013 • 80 pp. 5 1/2 x 7 1/2"

A second collection that turns over and cracks open the underbelly of American urban neighborhoods.

Sebastian Agudelo’s second book engages a documentary poetics to dissect an inner city neighborhood and explore the social, political economic tensions and affinities as well as search for the humanness of living together. The books is bracketed by an introductory section that looks to the past to contextualize and complicate the contemporary questions, and a closing section that looks to the future for a more global and environmental definition of what a neighbor might be. As Daisy Fried writes, “Each Chartered Street is a complicated, wonderful, humanist book about urban life and urban characters, novelistic in its reach, intricate in its lingo, literary in its references, and alive to the troubled streets of Philadelphia. Do put it on your list.”

Sebastian Agudelo is the author of To the Bone, winner of the 2008 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, selected by Mark Doty. He teaches at University of the Arts and lives with his wife and daughter in Philadelphia.


Winner of the 2008 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize selected by Mark Doty $14.00 Paper, 978-0-9818591-1-8 2009 • 80 pp. 5 1/2 x 7 1/2" To the Bone is a poetic feast. These lush, highly detailed, and at times vulgar poems give insight into the body, mind, and soul of the millions of kitchen workers across the globe. Told with gritty authenticity that only someone with true life experience working “the back of the house”, to use culinary lingo, can bring, Agudelo leads us by the mouth and nose on a one of a kind experience. In Whitmanesque style, Agudelo gives voice to the myriad of colorful characters who prepare our foods and clean up after us, lifting the veil on what we’d rather not see, but can’t turn away from. To the Bone is a unique collection by a stunning new talent. Reviews• •Excerpt• •About the Author

Reviews: "If you want to study the nature of power and appetite, the economics of eating and serving, where better to look than the restaurant kitchen? Sebastian Agudelo locates his lyric inquiry into the intersections between food and class in the steamy back rooms where the immigrant poor wash the dishes while meals rife with information about culture and history are carried to the tables of those who can pay the bill. Inventive, politically alert, both disenchanted and compassionate, Agudelo invites Whitman and Auden behind the scenes, into the aspiration, struggle and resignation behind the swinging doors. To the Bone is an unexpected, bracing debut." —Mark Doty "Sebastian Agudelo, by concentrating on cooking, has found a way to synthesize the various strata of an entire society, and, as well, to accommodate a poetic language of remarkable range and density. To the Bone is, at its heart, a meditation on the human cost of the finest things. Richly allusive, consumately literate, as passionate as it is intelligent, it reads like an aria." —Rodney Jones His work is expertly crafted and will connect with readers, making To the Bone unique and enjoyable. —Midwest Book Review Both poet and chef, Agudelo scrubs and knifes language with utmost skill.... Perhaps nowhere since Proust do lines stoke or stroke the senses with such clarity and sensuality as they do here... —Gary Cohen, Lana Turner
Artichoke Somewhere, the downy bristles of its heart stand for our hungers, for our wants. Somewhere its shingled leaves explain God or nature’s intractable math. Chef’s tasting offers adobo-crusted tuna on a barigoule of turned artichokes. To turn, you swivel the vegetable, paring blade perpendicular to the base, till grayish exterior gives way to green. That’s as far as any book has taken me, abridged directives, know-how aside. The rest is up to nerve and muscle, when it’s too late. Not just late to learn, midnight almost. With nine cases to go, better take Chef’s advice and not dwell on each heart more than ten seconds. “They better be round,” he means round, means literal one Mississippi, two Mississippi kind of second and the heart is bract and pulpy calyx, bobbing in acidulated water. Poets of the 1890’s got high on opium drunk on absinthe, just to read the shimmer spume, and fluorescence of a worn-out world. Poets now will diet on bizarre produce. Furrowed between bad childhoods and worsedivorces, curly tuber and thistle, pomegranate and alligator pear are harvested and piled high in altars to a faith— untenable and dubious, like all faiths— that any subject, scraped from so much of the anthropocentric dung that manured its growth, will lock the senses to a primal world, Edenic, Paradisal. Butcher will pity the sow’s frown, carpenter know tree from a planned stud. And cook? Well, Rosa, helping me tonight, lit two votive candles in the morning. Her kid hasn’t eaten since her husband left, and she’s wondering if something she did, moonlighting here and there, overtime, alienated Javier, though she doesn’t say alienate. She’s ambling the corridors of perplexity and as she goes, she christens the new turns in a place too ready to aerate. Like Eve in the garden, food’s her least concern, though she knows food, with that carnal intimate knowledge that lets her talk and scramble through each case, an artichoke every three seconds, perfectly round, three literal seconds.

Sebastian Agudelo was born in Mexico City. He earned his MA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and currently teaches literature and writing at University of the Arts and Temple University. He has worked extensively in restaurants in Philadelphia, where he presently lives with his wife and daughter.

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