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INTRODUCTION BY EMANUEL XAVIER

Ten years ago, an earlier version of this poetry collection heralded me as a minor celebrity in the downtown NYC arts scene. Bringing these selections back into print with this fresh new edition, I have the rare opportunity of celebrating this extended journey with a whole new audience.

As a self-published chapbook, Pier Queen barely registered as a poetry collection and the novel Christ Like did nothing more than satisfy my only desire to explore fiction writing. Nonetheless, I had strayed too far from the West Side Highway piers and the underground gay club scene to ever go back. I found comfort in the spoken word and slam poetry scene but wanted to do more than read at open mics and compete with three minute rules.

Americano was my first official poetry collection printed by a small press much like the one issuing this publication. It had a nice run for a few years and seemingly inspired a new generation of voices. It is not enough to be boxed into more than one minority genre—gay and Latino. With these selections, I basically make no effort to be embraced by the mainstream.

A cute little Latino boy dressed as a cowboy waving an American flag in the middle of the heartland is hardly an image anyone will walk away with after reading these poems. However, I owe my survival from the brutal streets as a queer homeless teen to the avant-garde artists which challenged and inspired me to share my own vision of America.

We enjoy great opportunities in these United States- freedom of expression and freedom of speech. However, that also gives prejudice and hatred the right to co-exist. To be an “Americano” in today’s world is to feel like an outsider in your own country while watching the struggle for immigration rights with the knowledge that we still have a long road ahead of us for real equality. It doesn’t matter if you were born and raised in this country or not, let alone “Born This Way”. In the United States, if you do not fit into the same mythical images of a light-haired, blue-eyed, white-skinned Christ, you would be hard pressed to be considered a true American. In a country filled with Chick-Fil-A’s and Westboro Baptist Churches and Youth for Western Civilizations, art that directly challenges the mainstream is still fringe.

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