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From an Italian word meaning “to repent,” a pentimento is an instance in painting when traces of an artist’s earlier decisions or mistakes are visible through the final layer(s) of paint. Using modes of confession, ekphrasis, and biblical persona, PENTIMENTO excavates a queerness entangled in one’s faith tradition. Whether seeking to understand his relationship to god, friends, or family, Garcia interrogates questions that arise on the path to self-acceptance. In “Self-Portrait as a Virgin,” a biblical persona asks, “How else are we to take words whole / in our mouths, except as they are given?” Concerned with naming, desire, love, and belonging, PENTIMENTO is a response to a kind of annunciation, the almost supernatural calling of the artist to find words through which the self is free to move.
Poetry. LGBTQ+ Studies.
”Wounds lie at the center of Joshua Garcia’s masterful PENTIMENTO. From this scar tissue, Garcia powerfully reclaims the past as an antidote to shame, as proof of survival, in order to cultivate queer joy. Through poems honed by a quiet confidence and masterful command over the braiding of memory, Garcia charts the evolution of self-discovery and takes on Whitman’s charge to sing the body electric. These poems are corporeal, raw, aching, bold in their tenderness, gentle in their honesty. This is what I come to poetry for: vulnerability transmuted through language into divine fire.” — Jacques J. Rancourt
”In PENTIMENTO, Joshua Garcia fuses the sacred with the secular, moving from churches to karaoke, from Jesus at the gastroenterologist to John the Baptist cruising in a state park, all the while revealing a self and world riven by loss and the remnants of a broken faith. A master of radiant detail, he takes us beyond what we think we see, returning, again and again, to his deft layering of art and myth, to the grace of heartbreak, to the body as first wound and source of all desire. This is a beautiful book and an exciting debut.” — Bruce Snider
”PENTIMENTO is more than a book of poems—the poems within ‘make reservoirs / of their own bodies.’ Joshua Garcia’s graceful attention to the queer body’s task of love has made a collection where we can glimpse ourselves in the messy act of living. ‘I like the idea that the whole world is born from a scar,’ says the poet, and despite the precarity of these origins, ‘let me build my love on yours.’” – C.T. Salazar
Joshua Garcia's poetry has appeared in Ecotone, The Georgia Review, Passages North, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the College of Charleston and has received a Stadler Fellowship from Bucknell University and an Emerge -Surface-Be Fellowship from The Poetry Project. He lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.