Unaccompanied: A Memoir, was supposed to be a mixed-genre juxtaposition of: 1. Javier Zamora’s own unaccompanied migration in 1999 when he was nine years old and 2. the current “immigration crisis” that began to flood the headlines beginning in 2014. The personal part of the project took the shape of prose vignettes and the second part of the project as poems in the form of headlines.
While Zamora was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, he began writing these poems and vignettes while researching how the New York Times covered Central American migrant children from April 2018–19. His findings were not surprising, children were usually written about by non-immigrants and photographed in dire situations, rarely, were they photographed smiling or having fun. His project aims to provide a fuller picture of what occurs during migration. It is not all trauma, although that is a huge aspect of it, there are also moments of joy, of community, of agency. Currently, Zamora thinks the prose and poems will be separated, but will see where the project takes him.
Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to the US when he was nine. He is the author of Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) and his poems appear in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New York Times, and others. He lives in Harlem where he’s working on his memoir and second collection of poems.