Review of Ink Knows No Borders, edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond

Ink Knows No Borders

Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience

edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond
foreword by Javier Zamora
afterword by Emtithal Mahmoud

Seven Stories Press, 2019. 183 pages.
Review written May 18, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

Ink Knows No Borders is a collection sixty-four poems by skilled poets with stellar credentials – who are all immigrants or children of immigrants and many have been refugees.

Our library has this in the young adult section, but there’s no reason old adults wouldn’t enjoy these poems as well.

There’s a wide variety in the poems – in style, form, and the ethnicity of the authors. But they’re all well-crafted poems, and they’re all hard-hitting. They each succeed in shining a light on one aspect of the immigrant experience. I had considered very few of these aspects before.

I read this book slowly, a poem or two per day. They made me think – and they helped me feel empathy for those who have had to leave their homes to come to America.

Here’s a bit of what the editors say at the front of the book:

Ink Knows No Borders celebrates the lives of immigrants, refugees, exiles, and their families, who have for generations brought their creative spirits, resilience and resourcefulness, determination and hard work, to make this land a home. They have come from the Philippines, Iran, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Sudan, Haiti, Syria, you name it. Enter the place of these poems, bordered only by the porousness of paper, and you’ll find the world’s people striving and thriving on American soil….

These poets know that the pen holds a secret, a secret that can only be uncovered by putting that pen to paper, in a crowded coffee shop or some solitary place, maybe in the middle of night or when the dawn won’t let you sleep, inspired, as you are, by birdsong or your own song. They know that “This story is mine to tell.” These lived stories, fire-bright and coal-hot acts of truth telling, are the poet’s birthright – and a human right.

Whether you were born in this country or another, whether you came here with the help of a “coyote,” crammed in a too-small boat, or with a visa and papers in order, whatever your skin color or first language may be, whomever you love, writing poems is a way to express your most authentic truths, the physical ache of despair, the mountaintop shout of your joy. Writing poetry will help you realize that you are stronger than you thought you were and that within your tenderness is your fortitude.

Not only does ink know no borders; neither does the heart.

Buy from

Find this review on Sonderbooks at:

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *