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We Meant to Bring It Home Alive: Poems by Armin Tolentino

We Meant to Bring It Home Alive: Poems by Armin Tolentino

We Meant to Bring It Home Alive
Poems by Armin Tolentino

“There’s no shortage of miracles here: dragons, spaceboys, angel meat, and lizard fights, yet extinction waits at every turn. Perhaps we should listen.”
—Ruth Awad,
author of Set to Music a Wildfire

From astronauts drifting lost through space to whalers hauling dragon weight through dark waters to fossil hunters of the 19th-century Bone Wars, the voices within this poetry collection all seek one uniting thing: connection. The epic sweep of Moby Dick meets Space Age exploration inside the lyrics of Bowie songs on the cusp of an apocalypse, all within the forgotten dreams of a fisherman or a whaler or a devil-dodger or a lizard man. Exploring distance, forgiveness, disconnection, and regret, the speakers—regardless of their fantastical or absurd situations—are simply people severed from their loved ones, their gods, their faith, or what they once believed was true about the world. They confront their doubts by flinging letters out into the darkness, relying on answers that never come. Feeble efforts. Messages in bottles. Prayers and apologies. But still each is hoping someone, something is listening across the expanse.

Perfectbound Trade Paperback $14.99


Praise for We Meant to Bring It Home Alive

“Armin Tolentino’s poems reach across time and space, Biblical in scope, longing, and wonder. These poems ask us to consider how we map a way back to each other and to the unknown. There’s no shortage of miracles here: dragons, spaceboys, angel meat, and lizard fights, yet extinction waits at every turn. Here is a poet who writes with the fever of time running out: ‘The Lord Almighty is just, / His message clear, and the wise man’s heart can tell (minus or plus / a day) eclipses and earthquakes are near; it must / buy billboard space and warn the less discerning.’ Perhaps we should listen.”
—Ruth Awad,
author of Set to Music a Wildfire

“It’s a daunting task to find empathy for the incredible, but in Armin Tolentino’s We Meant to Bring It Home Alive, he is able to shift from the connective tissue of emotion and loss to the outlandish landscapes of space and earthly adventures. As he would put it: ‘frozen oceans, buried cities, graves / and all that distance’ are all images that can live within the individual if that individual can take a deep-enough breath. This collection shakes off the traditional containment poetry can struggle against and lives wildly with each wing flap of a dragon and each disappearance of the sun. With such fullness, Tolentino managed to surprise me over and over again by quickly removing these dynamic images, and leaving the speaker in the poem to say, ‘Or / no more.’ You don’t expect work with such a fantastic energy to find an almost equally haunting quality, but that’s what happens when you experience the full range of these poems.”
—Darren C. Demaree,
author of Emily as Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire

“Brimming with imagination and melody, We Meant to Bring It Home Alive is a spooky deep-dive through the intersections of myth, spirituality, and Americana.”
—Deb Jannerson,
author of Rabbit Rabbit and Thanks for Nothing

“Daring and awe battle hubris and cowardice throughout the hypnotic rhythms and kaleidoscopic motifs of We Meant to Bring It Home Alive. Delving into deep space, deep earth, and human folly, Armin Tolentino evokes the likes of Moby Dick, ‘Space Oddity,’ Commander Keen, Genesis, and the Gospels. Unreceived letters and black box recordings seem to converse, impossibly, across empty darkness; ‘the liturgy of numbers’ offers hope to a wife on a widow’s walk, while numerology entices a radio preacher; an astronaut returns to Earth after years of deep-space hibernation to witness the aftermath of mass extinction beneath a dying sun; longing and absence fill the space of a rapidly expanding universe. Meanwhile, on Earth, mankind gambles with God and the angels, and the game isn’t yet over—who will and won’t see whose hands? We Meant to Bring It Home Alive barrels out to the horizons of knowing, to ‘stand / on the thin division between is and is not,’ elegantly questioning humanity’s relationship to our planet’s past and increasingly uncertain future. Mesmerizing, thought-provoking, and deliciously entertaining, Tolentino’s collection will haunt your dreams.”
—Allison Boyd Justus,
author of Solstice to Solstice to Solstice

“The mesmerizing wonder captured in Tolentino’s poems evokes both confrontation and longing. Through the incredible, he pulls out some of the rawest emotions of human existence: awe, isolation, ache. Space travel might not be available to all quite yet, but Tolentino’s poems are the closest experience to floating, fascinated among the stars, as we can get.”
—Đỗ Nguyên Mai,
author of Ghosts Still Walking

About We Meant to Bring It Home Alive

• Poetry
• Published by Alternating Current Press
• 5” x 8” Perfectbound Trade Paperback
• Cream Paper, 104 Pages
• Print ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-07-8
• Print ISBN-10: 1-946580-07-4
• First Edition: March 5, 2019
Permalink | Short URL: tinyurl.com/tolentinoalive
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We Meant to Bring It Home Alive

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Click to view / download photo of author Armin Tolentino by Michael G. England in [JPG].

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About Armin Tolentino

ARMIN TOLENTINO grew up in New Jersey and received his MFA at Rutgers University in Newark. He is the author of We Meant to Bring It Home Alive (Alternating Current Press, 2019), and his poetry has appeared in Hyphen Magazine, Arsenic Lobster, The Raven Chronicles, and elsewhere. He lives in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife and her three chinchillas.

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