Critical commentary:

 “On one level, Emily Pérez’s What Flies Want is a broad and ambitious book well-tuned to the concerns of the present moment as it attends in smart and nuanced layers to sexual violence, constructions of gender, the complexities of race, the disappointments and redemptions of marriage, and the entwined hopes and fears of raising boys in a world where ‘every man’s a ticking bomb.’ At the same time, on the level of language, these poems are driven by an astonishing musicality: inventive wordplay, shifty and obsessive repetition, propulsive rhythm, and brilliantly deployed rhyme. The result is a book that’s even larger than its parts—both challenging and intimate, intricate and genuinely moving.”—Wayne Miller, author, We the Jury

“Emily Pérez is one of my favorite poets because her work resists tidy category. Her music is crisp and weird; her backdrop is speculative; and, most importantly, she nimbly unpacks the intense, contorting pith of Pérez as mother/woman/artist/ Latina/trickster/white-adjacent body. We want What Flies Want for its sweet howl calling out from the trenches of a home full of swords, of ticking time bombs, and stolen jewels. We want poetry to be this mythically corporeal in its excavations ‘inscribed with girls in the woods.’” —Carmen Giménez Smith, author, Be Recorder

“Emily Pérez’s What Flies Want buzzes with a lyric imagination that defamiliarizes quotidian tales of love, children, marriage, and depression into ‘the clear hum, the strum and thrum / of energymatter.’ In her poems ‘the beast is unpredictable’ and ‘detritus is stirred’ until truths come out of the woodwork: as taut lines, breathless prose blocks, found poems, anti-epiphanies. The voice here is by turns ironic, polemical, whimsical, and disarming. Perhaps more than any book of Latinx poetry, this one offers a sustained investigation of whiteness from within and without. The power of such moments is amplified by Pérez’s savvy use of the white space of the page into a lyric erotics attuned to silences and violences.” —Urayoán Noel, author, Transversal

“The poetry of Emily Pérez will not allow what is hers to be stolen. She interrogates what has power over her, even as it is in her, as it has formed and informed her. Her work takes on the forces that make womanhood something to survive—she looks hard at love and family and devotion and is not afraid to make of them a sad song, an angry anthem, an ode of vexed joy, a complex and overflowing music. Each note is hard-won, truly traveled, and Pérez is a poet who knows what we live through belongs to us: the dark fear, the radiating beauty, the intuitive and difficult paths between.”—Brenda Shaughnessy, judge, Iowa Poetry Prize