Cover art: Michelle Blade // Cover Design: DCDESIGN

Cover art: Michelle Blade // Cover Design: DCDESIGN

Available in paperback and e-book formats from Alice James Books and your favorite Booksellers.

* Winner, 2018 da Vinci Eye Award
* Winner, 2014 Kundiman Poetry Prize
* Honorable Mention, 2018 Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize (New England Poetry Club)

* Finalist, 2018 Eric Hoffer Award
* Finalist, 2017 Oklahoma Book Award
* Longlist Finalist, 2016 Julie Suk Award

* Profiled by Stephanie Burt in The Los Angeles Times
* Named an "11 Immigrant Authors Who Are Transforming Literature" title in Bustle Magazine.
* Named an "Immigrant Authors are Making American Literature Great Again: 12 of the Best Books of 2016" title in VICE magazine
* Named an "Editors' Picks for Best Books of 2016" title by Pleiades
* Named a 2018 “Favorite Debut Poetry Collection” by Indiana Review

* Late Night Library's August 2016 Book Club Selection
* Reviewed in Publishers Weekly
* Featured on NBC News' list of emerging Asian-American writers to read
*Named a spring 2016 "Don't-Miss" poetry title by Library Journal
* Selected as a
Top Poetry Pick for spring 2016 by Library Journal
* Selected as a must-read book for 2016 by Brooklyn Magazine


“If you come to Driving without a License for immigrant stories, family stories, childhood stories, Filipina stories and coming-of-age stories, you will find them, transformed by a fast-forward imagination…. If you want to see formal variety or syntactic verve, you’ll find them too, at almost every imaginable speed. If you want acerbic commentary on the American immigration apparatus, on a culture that says she belongs and yet doesn’t belong, you’ll find that too: If Joseph ever has a child, she quips, ‘my child/ will be called an anchor/ with hands at its throat.’ (The brutality of the mixed metaphor helps make her point.) You’ll also find lighter language play and even puns: ‘Extended Stay America.’ […] But you'll find rare intelligence about what its like to tell just part of your story, to know that no life can be wholly explained or revealed, that something of her story — of anyone’s story — will always remain to be told.”  [Stephanie Burt, The Los Angeles Times]

"Through her variety of lines, of old and new forms, and of voices adopted and inhabited, Joseph, herself Filipina-American, does justice to the raw emotions around immigration with verve...." [Publishers Weekly]

"...Driving without a License explores liminal spaces inhabited by an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines coming of age in the United States. Witnessing how the speaker must hide a part of her identity, we learn how one language’s term for “always hiding” translates to another’s “TNT.” Driving without a License is political and virtuosic while maintaining a witty and down-to-earth voice, and the finely wrought tension between these modes creates a uniquely energized poetry." [Laura Donnelly, Kenyon Review]

“Joseph’s work weaves her own truths and luminous stories within today’s anti-immigrant and racist contexts. And by so doing, she helps us become clearer on the work we must do to shape this world into a different story we all can tell.” [Tamiko Beyer, LitHub]

"One has come to expect quality from Alice James Books. The venerable New England cooperative continues to publish the best new female voices while expanding their catalogue in recent years to include men and even more international poets. That expectation of quality has been met and exceeded with Janine Joseph’s Driving without a License, which sluices down hot asphalt, gathering steam in the low air. At times steamy but never foggy (the way some poems repeat the worst excesses of the Imagistes), these poems elucidate rather than obscure." [Josh Brewer, The Southeast Review]

"These poems create a disquieting narrative of American immigration, one in which an undocumented young woman from the Philippines hides in plain sight among the pizza places and schoolyards of Southern California, surrounded by opportunity, risk and threat. Joseph’s sensibility is as psychological as it is political, reminding us that concealment is more than a physical act; it is also a profoundly disruptive emotional and psychological position, one that informs not just the speaker’s sense of the world, but her sense of her self. Brilliantly crafted and intimate, Driving without a License complicates the narrative of American immigration, creating from it a poetry of beauty and empathy."  [Kevin Prufer]

"When I first heard her poems two years ago, I knew how vital they were to the conversations about who can claim American identity. Since then, the scapegoating and outright vitriol directed toward immigrants has only grown, making her debut collection even more essential on anyone’s American poetry shelf."  [Swati Khurana, The Rumpus]

"As she guides us through constant fearfulness...and unimaginable hurt..., Joseph blends everyday anxieties with deeper ones, avoiding outright reportage for smarter inflection. The tensions of visiting the immigration lawyer’s office, for instance, are seen in the mad drive away. VERDICT: A gifted writer’s view on an all-American issue." [Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal]

"Janine Joseph writes with an open and easy intimacy. The language here is at once disruptive and familiar, political and sensual, and tinged by the melancholy of loss and the discomforting radiance of redemption. A strong debut."  [Chris Abani]

"We’ve never read a book like Janine Joseph’s, Driving without a License. By “We” I mean all of us. With its ferocious formal range and deep compassion Joseph shows us the world we all live in but often choose to ignore. Here are the lives of mothers and fathers, teenagers and grandparents, all living under the threat of deportation. Here are people making a new home while holding onto the dignity and beauty of the place that they were once from. Joseph is that rare poet who makes a poem that devastates a reader while being entirely free from judgment. These are political poems because simply being alive in the United States is a political act. These are narrative poems because everyone has a story. At the heart of each poem is the lyric, that moment in which there is no separation between ourselves and the world Joseph lets bloom. This makes us citizens of these poems, which is a testament to Joseph’s staggering grace."  [Gabrielle Calvocoressi] 

"Though the political suffuses these poems, they are also personal, funny, irreverent and playful. Difficult forms such as the villanelle and a linked sonnet cycle are treated deftly and courageously, while the diction runs the gamut from Tagalog to American pop culture. These are inviting, personable poems with sharp points buried in each. A truly entertaining and enlightening first collection."  [D. A. Powell, Goodreads]

"Janine Joseph’s 2014 Kundiman Poetry Prize-winning Driving without a License can be examined through a number of lenses that help give it unity: politically as it details the life of an undocumented young woman from the Philippines who hides in the light of the Southern California sunshine; formally as Joseph weaves in a sonnet sequence, a villanelle, a ghazal among long-lined poems that stretch to fit in American pop culture and her Filipina roots; emotionally as the speaker copes with the growing pains we all face as we search for our identities. They all work to give us direction, but they’re not the center. If we take that first word from the book’s epigraph (“Home”) and the last poem’s final word (“disappeared”), Driving Without a License becomes even greater than the sum of its parts." [Michael Levan, American Microreviews & Interviews]

"The book includes text from naturalization forms and newspaper articles about immigration, plays with multiple forms and lays claim to each. While the speaker is hiding in plain sight, the book is a 'coming out' that doesn't shy away from its politics." [Matthew Salesses, VICE]

"Propelled by the topic of immigration and filled with heartbreaking relevance, the book still manages to treat the subject with a unique sense of humor that feels wholly appropriate. Courage and a side-glancing wit unite, making Joseph’s collection a necessity." [Steve Fellner, Rain Taxi]

"Driving without a License is a collection about belonging and un-belonging, about growing up in a culture that says you’re welcome here (generally), yet enables governmental structures designed to alienate and remove you." [E. CE Miller, Bustle Magazine]