C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Missisippi. His debut full-lenth collection Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking (Acre Books 2022) was named a 2023 finalist for the Theodore Roethke Memorial Award. He is the 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in poetry, and a 2017 recipient of the Awp Intro Journal Award. His poems have recently appeared in West Branch, Gulf Cost, Dunver Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, Hopkins Review, and elsewhere.
Salazar is the 2023 Visiting Author at the University of North Georgia.
Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking: Poems
The coming-of-age chronicle of a queer Latinx Southerner.
In C. T. Salazar’s striking debut poetry collection, the speaker is situated in the tradition of Southern literature but reimagines its terrain with an eye on the South’s historic and ongoing violence. His restless relationship with religion (“a child told me there was a god / and because he was smiling, I believed him”) eventually includes a reclamation of the language of belief in the name of desire. “I felt myself become gospel in your hands,” the speaker tells his beloved. And, as the title poem asserts, a headless body “leaves more room for salvation.”
Though Salazar’s South is not a tender place, the book is a petition for tenderness, revealing in both place and people the possibilities for mercy, vulnerability, and wonder. The lyric I, as it creates an archive of experience, is not distanced from the poems’ subjects or settings, but deeply enmeshed in a tangled world. In poems with lush diction, ranging from a sonnet crown to those that explore the full field of the page, Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking seeks—and finds—where the divine resides: “Praise our hollow-bell bodies still ringing.”