Carmen Calatayud Carmen Calatayud
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
In the Company of Spirits
by Carmen Calatayud

Silver Concho Poetry Series

ISBN 978-1-935708-69-8
8.5 x 5.5 paperback, 88 pages

Carmen Calatayud
Carmen Calatayud’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, La Bloga and PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art. She is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner, a runner-up for the Walt Whitman Award and recipient of a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship. Carmen is a poet moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook group that features poetry and news about Arizona’s immigration law that legalizes racial profiling. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the U.S., Carmen works and writes in Washington, D.C.
Praise for In the Company of Spirits
“Archangel Michael sticks his finger down my throat/and now I have to tell your story.” writes Carmen Calatayud, in a collection that slips admirably into one of American poetry’s most noble strands—a poetry of testimonio where the poet uses her gift to weave narratives rooted in a plethora of myths, at once familial, social, and political. These stories are borne from the body and often interwoven with an undercurrent of unrest or unease, even violence, as would be the case if one had a finger jammed down one’s throat. The gaze in these poems is unflinching, as well as drenched with imagination. In the Company of Spirits will indeed enrich the ever-expanding mosaic of Latino/a poetry.”
— Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame; author of Glow of Our Sweat 

“The poems in In the Company of Spirits journey to the borderlands– between nations, languages, people, the living and dead – sending back essential dispatches on what is found there: war and violence but also richness and beauty, redemption and hope. Carmen Calatayud is our expert guide, leading us to that ultimate geographic border where we wrestle the angels of our lesser selves – our fears, our urges toward destruction – until we are reborn. Gorgeous, hurting, heartbreaking: these are the poems I’ll take on my own journey toward truth.”
Sarah Browning, director of Split This Rock Poetry Festival, author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden

“Carmen Calatayud’s courageous poems not only sing, but talk straight from the heart about love and death, the everyday as well as the inexplicable. These poems accomplish that rare feat of weaving a spell from the first to last page that causes everything else to fall away...” 
— Devreaux Baker, winner of the 2011 PEN Oakland award for Red Willow People

“Whether encompassing the political or the personal, the spiritual or the everyday, Carmen Calatayud writes with a raw and painful frankness, a sense of magical and lyrical wisdom, and a razor’s edge of rage. In the Company of Spirits is a collection to be devoured on the first read, savored on the second, and taken deep into the heart on the third, the fourth, and beyond.”
 Naomi Benaron, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction for Running the Rift

“Carmen Calatayud’s poems are ‘love stories from the ruins.’ Unflinching and brave, her language winds through the wreckage of war zones and borderlands, but it also pauses to praise and to question the human heart. This inward and outward gaze, a blurring of the personal and the political, allows Calatayud to explore a larger lyrical space, to sing and to cry beneath ‘black moons’ and a ‘pomegranate sun.’ Beautifully crafted and beautifully humane, brimming with "blood that blesses us all,” these poems survey the music and the decay around us.”
 Eduardo C. Corral, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for Slow Lightning

Meet Cover Artist Aydee Lopez Martinez
Aydee Lopez Martinez was born in Teocaltiche, Jalisco, Mexico, and her family immigrated to the United States when she was four years old.  She was instantly drawn to the coloring books, crayons, and sketch pads her mother had purchased to ease her children’s transition from the drastic relocation.  Aydee’s mother didn’t know it then, but she introduced her daughter to a lifelong passion for the visual arts and a yearning to express herself via color and imagination, powered by rich cultural symbolisms and strong family values.

Aydee grew up in the community of Cypress Park in Northeast Los Angeles and graduated from Franklin High School in Highland Park.  She received her Bachelor in Fine Art degree from California State University, Los Angeles in 1999 and is now a full-time professional artist based out of Covina, California.  Her work has been exhibited throughout California, and in Chicago, New York, San Antonio and Mexico.  She has been commissioned to paint works by such organizations as the Down Town Los Angeles Grand Performances; Latina Leadership Network (LLN); California State University-Dominguez Hills; Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina; and Pomona Unified School District, to name a few. 

Her work has also been published in the books, Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art: Artists, Works, Culture and Education; Triumph of our Communities, and Chicano Art for Our Millennium, printed by Arizona State University and The Bilingual Press.

Today, Aydee continues to work out of her studio in Covina and is active as a member of the Covina Cultural Arts Advisory Commission, whose mission is to expose the community of Covina to free public cultural art opportunities and awareness. You can see more of Aydee’s art at


Lack of confidence 
has taken me
to so many nowheres 
I’ve lost track.
I’ve been here before, 
in a dream filled 
with blackjack cards
and plastic breasts. 
The best I can hope for
is to find the camp—
a white polyester suit 
on a guy with a comb-over 
and a big cigar. 
A Dean Martin look-alike 
crooning in a lounge. 
A woman with a beehive 
donned in furs, 
caressing her cigarette holder 
with a miniature poodle
by her side. 

It’s Christmas Eve  
and you’re drunk
high on Vegas, 
positive you’ll hit 21. 
I forgave your last coke binge 
and came on this trip
to visit our friend 
in the federal pen.
There’s a couple  
sitting next to us 
who just tied the knot.  
The bride is giddy 
in her white lace. 

This place is filled
with people who spill dice
across putting green tables. 
I wander away 
to a special room
where the rich dress up
to play baccarat.
The bouncer explains 
the rules, but
all I want to know
is if the mob 
is watching us 
through those cameras 
from a suite upstairs.
Yeah, they are, he says.

A couple tells me 
how they saved 
their money—
she’s a teacher and
he’s a cop—and they’ve 
come from Pennsylvania 
to blow their wad and
see if they can 
hit the big time. 
Down $3,000
they didn’t have, 
they go home broke
and begin again.

Coming Soon