One Book 2021-2022

One Book 2021 Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez

The One Book program engages our college community in a dialogue about a common text that addresses a current issue. Students, faculty and staff share the experience of reading a text and examining its effects upon our community. Faculty who incorporate the text into their curriculum receive copies for their students. Programming is provided throughout the year to continue the discussions that begin in the classrooms of various disciplines. The culminating event happens each spring semester when the college invites the author of the chosen text to visit, interact and speak with our student body. The One Book program promotes literacy in an innovative way and creates interest within a subject that students may be encouraged to pursue and advocate for in the future. The program invites analysis, promotes critical thinking, and encourages positive change.

About the author José Olivarez 

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, “Citizen Illegal,” was a finalist for the PEN/ Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library.Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he co-edited the poetry anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. He is the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association and named a Debut Poet of 2018 by Poets & Writers. In 2019, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. 

About Citizen Illegal  

In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in. Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.  

“Olivarez steps into the ‘in between’ standing between Mexico and America in these compelling, emotional poems. Written with humor and sincerity, each page looks at immigration, race, gender and class, and how it’s all playing out amid the polarizing relationship between America, Mexico and those who inhabit both.”—Newsweek, “Best Books of 2019” 

“This striking collection of poems is a testament to art’s power to shine a light on the beauty and nuance of family life and the plight of oppressed populations.”—NPR, “Best Books of 2019” 

Event Information 

BHCC Poetry Contest

Submit work exploring our common diversity: "Where Do I Fit In?
Rules and Submissions: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1LWTIMapW7Kh2MBqDTpNjuBBy8DjYG0zk?usp=sharing

Contest submissions will be accepted November 1-10

BHCC Poetry Slam

Celebrate BHCC Student talent and vote for your favorite!
Tuesday, November 16 from 1-2:15 p.m.