'The Life Assignment,' Debut Poetry Collection by alumni Ricardo Alberto Maldonado ’08 out this September

BY Audrey Deng, August 19, 2020

Four Way Books will publish The Life Assignment by alumni Ricardo Alberto Maldonado ’08 this September. This book, which will be Maldonado’s first, is a collection of poetry that has already garnered praise from numerous literary outlets for its mastery of complex ideas across not one but two languages.

“In this quietly furious bilingual debut, Maldonado challenges the entanglements of power, queer love, money, and language against the backdrop of a post-hurricane Puerto Rico and a life of daily labor in New York City,” according to Publishers Weekly. “Here are powerfully imagined futures, where devastated cities are reillumined, the body is called back to itself, and people are emboldened by their collective melancholy.”

Adjunct assistant professor Lynn Melnick praises The Life Assignment for its “heaps of sorrow and grace,” adding, “Maldonado has a knack for the impossible, and for making his readers look headlong into it until we all come out the other side more compassionate and honest.”

Four Way Books calls The Life Assignment “[a]n electric debut collection[…]Often the speaker finds that what at first appeared to be caring, was insincere all along. When tenderness is in short supply, how can one protect himself? How can one find home?”

Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He is the translator of Dinapiera Di Donato’s Colaterales (Akashic Books/National Poetry Series) and the recipient of fellowships in poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Queer/Arts/Mentorship. He is managing director at 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center.

The Life Assignment is available for pre-order online.