A powerful debut collection exploring one family’s pursuit of the American Dream
Sebastián H. Páramo renders a semi-autobiographical collection, utilizing self-portraiture and memory to uncover how his Texan, working-class, Mexican American identity shapes his relationship to his stepbrother and to his family’s burning desire to become American.
Portrait of Us Burning begins with the humble picture of an immigrant American family. This picture starts to disintegrate—and, ultimately, burns—with the need to understand an inciting event that haunts the family throughout the second half of the collection. As the poems gather force and the picture dissolves further, Páramo asks us again and again: What does it mean to burn while becoming a part of a whole?