The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez
by Iliana Rocha
Winner of the BERKSHIRE PRIZE
“Formally vibrant, Iliana Rocha imagines and reimagines the deaths of the forgotten-Inocencio Rodriguez, AKA John Doe. Through multiple tellings and retellings, the author attempts to perform last rites for those who have received no ceremony. Indeed, the unceremonious deaths of the innocents and of innocence make for a poignant obsession here in a docupoetic kaleidoscope where found knowledge turns and churns into art, magnificent, devastating, and long-lasting. I am transfixed by the way that lyric and narrative are woven into this bold and elegiac tapestry that touches, not only on violent flashpoints but most essentially on the revenants that speak, long after loss, to the resounding failures of our humanity. This is an exquisite book.” — from the Judge’s Citation by Oliver de la Paz
Published: February 2022
“Iliana Rocha’s exquisite book The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodríguez illustrates how our singular grief becomes amplified when set against the violent tapestry of contemporary America. ‘Where is it safe for us?’ it dares to ask as it navigates yesterday’s harrowing headlines, which continue to resonate in the travesties of today, and which we’ll likely hear again tomorrow. Powerful and poignant, Rocha’s poems give us temporary refuge, each page an occasion to grapple with the troubling stories of our times.”
The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez chronicles an obsession with the 1971 unsolved murder of Rocha’s grandfather while interrogating the true crime genre, tabloid culture, immigrant identity, the phenomena of missing and murdered women, troubled relationships with law enforcement, and the intersection of prose and poetry. Because the details of his death were (and are) terribly unclear, part of how the family reconstructed him was to share the different accounts heard over the decades, and this collection attempts to pin down these shifts and contours through destabilizing form and genre. Each speaker reconfigures a past mysterious and tenuous, clouded by distance, language, and time in order to demonstrate how Inocencio Rodriguez defies a single narrative.
|Dimensions||7 × 9 in|