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Books for changing the world

Penelope Alegria's Milagro is a retracing of parental lineage, a recount of the stories that course through the veins of family. The collection examines the effects of immigration from the perspective of both the immigrant and the immigrant’s child, investigating how the act of leaving reverbrates through generations. These poems echoe with fondness and longing, with love and sacrifice that reflects the first-generation American’s struggle to belong. Alegria writes about uncles, Peruvian cuisine and first boyfriends to show how what immigrants choose to leave behind is often what their children carry with them.

  • “Milagro is a beautiful book of poems. It traces lineages and loves from Chicago to Lima to Brussels with an exquisite tenderness and honesty. Penelope Alegria is a writer with purpose, vision, and a delightful gift for music and imagery.”
    —José Olivarez, author of Citizen Illegal

    “In this stunning debut collection, Penelope Alegria builds a world through specific, tender portraiture. These poems traverse space & time to explore notions of identity, family, home, and belonging. Milagro is filled with poems that blend languages and skillfully shift perspectives, resulting in a storytelling that holds space for nuance and complexity. Alegria is unafraid to pinpoint injustices big or small, to let questions linger in the air. Reading this imaginative & transformative work will leave you looking at your world differently, able to hear the lessons in creaky bedroom floorboards and consider the journey of your mother’s hands. Alegria writes, “We’re all a miracle at some point," and indeed these poems witness the alchemy of the everyday.”
    —Jamila Woods

    “Penelope’s poems are of great promise. Through narrative and storytelling, she honors the process of remembering. Here is a tapestry made from the land of her beginning and her home.”
    —E’mon Lauren, first Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago

    Milagro does a phenomenal job capturing the stories of survival and love of Penelope’s family. It allows readers to experience Penelope through the various relationships she holds with the people in her book. Milagro exhibits many anecdotes and emotions which keeps you looking forward to the next poem. In this book, Penelope recreates a tangible world for the reader to submerge themselves in. This book is the ultimate demonstration of tenderness, pride, and spirit of hard work of those around her. Penelope transforms everyday interactions with loved ones into something thoughtful and beautiful. Milagro makes you want to pick up a pen to document your own stories and check up on your loved ones.”
    —Luis Carranza, Young Chicago Authors Teaching Fellow

    “this might be the first time you are reading or hearing of Penelope Alegria, but it will not be the last. To quote Mos Def/Yasiin Bey "buy my rookie card now / Cause after this year the price ain't coming down". Milagro is a testament to the grit and beauty of the migrant’s story. Penelope is an alchemist of languages, an inheritor of traditions who adds a necessary, new voice to the growing revolution in Latinx and BreakBeat poetics.” 
    —Kevin Coval, author of Everything Must Go: The Life and Death of an American Neighborhood