In stock

ISBN: 978-1-955239-10-3
Categories Nomadic, Poetry

Like Sugar

Publication Date: November 2021


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Like Sugar was originally published by Nomadic.

Like Sugar is a mixtape launched from the frontlines of growing up queer and Puerto Rican in a world where straightness and whiteness embed the very language we speak. These exquisite poems reference pop culture and classic literature equally and lavishly. Cardi B and David Wojnarowicz do the shimmy through this book, as do Nina Simone and Arthur Rimbaud in a torrent of culture, camp, theatricality, and sass.


Roberto F. Santiago’s collection Like Sugar is astounding! The language guts and questions and laughs with you there on the page. Exploring the end of a world and all its various beginnings, Like Sugar moves you between the protest, the bedroom, and the dancefloor with deft precision and care. The poems in this book pull taut the string between desire and violence. Do yourself a favor and read this collection, then go ahead and share it with a friend.
sam sax, author of Madness & Bury It

Roberto F. Santiago’s Like Sugar is a performative cascade roiling with wisdom. As a child, the speaker is obsessed with the beauty of sadness, imagines that the ceiling fan is a cameraman whose lens records the “big movie moment / where I would burst into song. Something in Spanish. / Something dramatic about being a woman scorned / like my Tías and Tía’s Tías before them.” In the same poem comes the wisdom: “The problem with losing something you love is not the without / it is the moment you realize you will survive without.” These are poems of survival-as-verb in a life lush with adventure and heartache. One of the survival strategies is visceral comedy, as in a poem which includes the simile which becomes the book’s title, as well as recipes for cocktails. He writes, “he wanted to fuck me, but I wouldn’t, so I fucked him / raw like sugar wants to be while Lisa, my roommate, was out / getting pregnant when she should’ve been at work at the M&M factory.” My head spins like a big whirly lollipop. Santiago is defiant in the face of conventionalizing writerly advice. “I also know you’re gonna / unsheathe your fine-tipped sharpies / from their Moleskine prisons / and scrape across that first-line, / to make a suggestion for a subtler, / less violent opener,” he writes, letting us know not to bring our tight-assery to the delicious too-too-muchness of all this raw sugar.
Diane Seuss, author of Frank: Sonnets

Roberto F. Santiago’s second book of poems, Like Sugar, is witness to a tender violence that can “love someone down to nothing.” The scene is Oakland 2016, the Bronx of the early 90’s, or Old San Juan and tells of the imperfect self that “desires to be the hero of a story, any story,” while reckoning with the failure to do so. These are timely poems of our lives in quarantine, of resisting the weapon of the state and the multiple orbits of desire that leave an unfathomable wreckage behind. Here is the sweet, then the sour, then the sweet again, taught and tautness as cinch “for the animal…and accomplice…I’ve become.” Read this book for the fury, read this book again for how to do it correctly.
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Children of the Land

Like Sugar is an apocalyptic ars poetica—an overflow of burning cities—a candied and sonic reflection of rage and longing that has turned back to look at itself despite the threat of turning to stone. To suggest a “subtle, less violent opener” for Santiago’s work would ruin this perpetual night going into dawn. “Someone needs to be brave enough to be themselves,” says one poem, yet this whole book is a lyrical rebellion that’s satisfying to read for that very reason. “[T]he sun saunters to the center and bleaches everything,” Like Sugar is an undressed prayer left to its own thrilling devices.

-Analicia Sotelo, Author of Virgin

About the Author

Roberto F. Santiago

Roberto F. Santiago received an MSW from UC Berkeley and MFA from Rutgers University. His debut collection, Angel Park, appeared on the LA Times list of 23 Essential New Books by Latino Poets and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. His second collection, LIKE SUGAR is a torrent of culture, camp, theatricality, and sass. Roberto lives in San Francisco, where he works as a clinical social worker and nightlife fixture. His debut album “Bu$$yCat" is now streaming on all major platforms.

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