Oil and Candle

Oil and Candle

(Timeless, Infinite Light, 2016)



This book traces imagined rituals, failed rituals, and magical objects of Santería in confronting issues of race, warfare, and the precarity of Latino lives. Object-oriented, Oil and Candle localizes biographical, theoretical, and imagined content in a Limpias oil and an Abrecaminos prayer candle (or velón). This book is the winner of the Timeless, Infinite Light TRACT contest and was released in March 2016.


Gabriel Ojeda-Sague's poems, to borrow a phrase from Robert Hayden, are 'wild, patterned, and free.' The language is restless; it leaps and alights in surprising ways. A ghost calls on a landline and 'time/ opens its clouds.' Paradoxically, the non-linear unfolding of sense and music allows Ojeda-Sague to craft a vivid matrix of patterns: identity, rituals, queerness, citizenship, and war. At the heart of this matrix is a voice --discerning and serendipitous -- that moves from intimate telling to a gorgeous torquing of syntax and line. The aesthetic freedom fueling Oil and Candle is exhilarating. All language is at play for Ojeda-Sague, which allows him to score the page with multiple tongues and registers. Oil and Candle is a remarkable and searing book. A must-read.

-Eduardo Corral


"When I exist, / I am complicit.” Opening Oil and Candle I found myself poured into a whispering ceremonial basin. Ojeda-Sague wields reverence and perceptivity like a sudden dusting of snow in a too warm winter. His honest rhythm, the posture of his questing will rip through you the way that a photograph develops in a darkroom.

-Sade Murphy


Oil and Candle does the syncretic work of shining slant light on our endings/beginnings. This kind of tricksterism opens passage for communication beyond the limits of our oppressive orthodoxies- poetic and otherwise. Included in this book are cleansing spells to help clear our paths- “limpias of poets who have never been scared just of/ walking around in the world/ limpias of poets who trust the police/ limpias of poets who poison the apple/ limpias of poets who still trust irony”. This text is not simply about Ojeda-Sague at a crossroads. It is you, me… all of us who share in bodies that can be found there. Let’s look into each other’s faces with the light Gabriel provides, in all its queer ritual brilliance.

-Frank Sherlock


Poetry Jawns Podcast: Interview with Emma Sanders and Alina Pleskova

Hyperallergic: Review by Gina Myers

Drunken Boat: Conversation with fellow Timeless, Infinite Light author Jai Arun Ravine

Full Stop: Review by Emily Anderson

The Conversant: Interview with Caleb Beckwith

Apiary: Interview with D. Ashley

LitHub: "Every Poem I Write is About Ted Cruz"

Entropy: Review by Davy Knittle

Adroit: Interview with Austin Forster

Michigan Quarterly Review: Review by Ryo Yamaguchi

PhillyMag: Coverage by Ernest Owens