“I know this book changed me. The book itself knows change, how to change itself, knows so well how transformation―vast essential change which would seem to oppose a self―brings a person ever closer to their truth.” ―Brenda Shaughnessy


"In the spirit of Whitman, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo slips in silently to lie down between the bridegroom and the bride, to inhabit many bodies and many souls, between rapture and grief. 'I want everything to touch me.' These are poems that open borders both personal and political, a map of silences and celebrations. 'You called it cutting apart/ I called it song.'"―D. A. Powell

"Federico Garcia Lorca described duende as a struggle, not a thought, and the deep and natural lyricism of Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s Cenzontle is a paragon of that struggle, where ‘it’s easy to make honey/from what is beautiful and what is not.’ In this exquisite debut collection, longing twins with inheritance to consider the interiority of nationhood and the legacy of masculinity and exile. Castillo’s finely-honed poems celebrate and reveal the contours of physical and historical intimacies, a feast for the eyes and heart." ―Carmen Giménez Smith 


Publishers Weekly

"Castillo’s lyrically rich and cinematic debut compresses the emotional resonances of lived experience into poetic narratives of devotion, eroticism, family, labor, and migration. The poems make displays of fragility and power by turn, a duality drawn into relief by the precarious condition of the undocumented immigrant."


The New York Times

"Castillo embraces an expansive ambiguity — of language, of gender, of nationality — that can sound celebratory and mournful at once."

Book Awards & Nominations

California Book Award

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Foreword INDIE Best Book of the Year

Bronze Winner

Bronze Winner

Publishing Triangle: Thom Gunn Award


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Northern California Independent Booksellers Association

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Great Lakes Colleges Association

Winner: New Writers Award in Poetry

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Lambda Literary Award

Finalist for the Bisexual award in poetry

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A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize

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Cenzontle listed as a top book of 2018

Andrew Rannells reads the poem "Drown" with accompanying video produced by Brendan Stumpf

"A Poet's Field Notes Ending in a Deportation" -by Jennifer Hijazi

"Cenzontle is both spare and lyrical, communicating the reality and emotions of the immigrant experience in the U.S., and it comes at a time of hardline immigration rhetoric and policy from the White House."

"Our Latino Top Picks: 3 Summer Must Reads" Chosen and reviewed by Rigoberto González

Cenzontle discussed by Mary Louise Kelly and Tess Taylor 

Interview with L.A. Grove

"Rethinking Poetic Citizenship" by Momo Chang

Interview with Tim Z. Hernandez

"How Poetry Helped Marcelo Hernandez Castillo Speak out on Immigration" by Corinne Segal

The mission of Undocupoets is to promote the work of undocumented poets and raise consciousness about the structural barriers that they face in the literary community. We believe in supporting all poets, regardless of immigration status.

"A Portrait of Marcelo Hernandez Castillo" by The Harriet Staff

"Writing the Evasive American Dream" by Rebecca Huval

Here's the List of Latino Poets You Should Know for National Poetry Month

"Instructor Wins Double Literary Awards" by Craig Koscho

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