by Roberto Castillo Udiarte
translated from the Spanish by Anthony Seidman
“[It’s] poetry that bites, poetry that stings, poetry that takes you to the darkest places in order to beat you down, and poetry that picks you back up again".”
In his biting first full-length collection in English, Tijuana poet Roberto Castillo Udiarte commiserates with Zona Norte streetwalkers, embodies the desert lizard, and maps a life lived in the dimness of the barroom—as well as its incisive light. The poems in Smooth-Talking Dog display the counterculture influence of a wide range of influences on both sides of the border, from both the page and the rock concert stage, as hilarious and tragic as they are deadly serious. Celebrating Baja California's status outside the Mexican literary mainstream, Smooth-Talking Dog proves just how permeable the aesthetic border between the U.S. and Mexico really is.
Press and Reviews
Roberto Castillo Udiarte, “the Godfather of Tijuana’s counterculture” (La Prensa San Diego), has written a half dozen books of poetry and a handful of novels. Born in Tecate in 1951, Castillo Udiarte has lived his entire life in Baja California, though he has often explored "el otro lado" in search of his literary contemporaries, among whom he counted Charles Bukowski, whose work he was the first to translate into Spanish.
Anthony Seidman is a poet and translator from Los Angeles. He began translating Mexican literature during the five years that he lived in Ciudad Juárez. His most recent book of poetry, A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed, appeared in 2016, and his most recent translation is J.M. Servín's memoir For Love of the Dollar: A Portrait of the Artist as an Undocumented Immigrant.
"Castillo, born in Tecate in 1951, published, in 1985, the paradigmatic book of that decade: Blues cola de lagarto." - Diccionario Enciclopédico de Baja California
"Books like Caldo de pollo (1919) and Nubes (1983) by Oscar Hernández, Blues cola de lagarto (1985) and Cartografía del alma (1987) by Roberto Castillo, and La ciudad que recorro de Francisco Morales and Tijuana rifa K/Z y qué by Marcos Morales create, with their colloquial language and powerful imagery, a monument to our multiple existences, a mirror for ourselves, reflecting our dreams, hopes, and frustrations..." - Gabriel Trujillo
"The collection Smooth-Talking Dog gives readers a taste of what many have been experiencing for quite some time. Poetry that bites, poetry that stings, poetry that takes you to the darkest places in order to beat you down, and poetry that picks you back up again." -Zachary Jensen, Angel City Review
Cover art by Jaya Nicely