The Sobbing School

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A “sharp” and “scintillating” (Publishers Weekly) debut collection of poetry, selected by Eugene Gloria as a winner of the National Poetry Series
  

The Sobbing School, Joshua Bennett’s mesmerizing debut collection of poetry, presents songs for the living and the dead that destabilize and de-familiarize representations of black history and contemporary black experience. What animates these poems is a desire to assert life, and interiority, where there is said to be none. Figures as widely divergent as Bobby Brown, Martin Heidegger, and the 19th-century performance artist Henry Box Brown, as well as Bennett’s own family and childhood best friends, appear and are placed in conversation in order to show that there is always a world beyond what we are socialized to see value in, always alternative ways of thinking about relation that explode easy binaries.
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About the author

Joshua Bennett received his PhD in English from Princeton University. He is currently a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard Univeristy, and has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry JournalCallaloo, the Kenyon Review, and New England Review. Bennett tours nationally and internationally as a performance poet and has recited his original work at the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House. He lives in Yonkers, New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Sep 27, 2016
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Pages
96
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ISBN
9781101993101
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Poetry / American / African American
Poetry / American / General
Poetry / Subjects & Themes / Family
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

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Exploring the rich relationship between historical thought and religious debate in Victorian culture, God and Progress offers a unique and authoritative account of intellectual change in nineteenth-century Britain. The volume recovers a twofold process in which the growth of progressive ideas of history transformed British Protestant traditions, as religious debate, in turn, profoundly shaped Victorian ideas of history. It adopts a remarkably wide contextual perspective, embracing believers and unbelievers, Anglicans and nonconformists, and writers from different parts of the British Isles, fully situating British debates in relation to their European and especially German Idealist surroundings. The Victorian intellectual mainstream came to terms with religious diversity, changing ethical sensibilities, and new kinds of knowledge by encouraging providential, spiritualized, and developmental understandings of human time. A secular counter-culture simultaneously disturbed this complex consensus, grounding progress in appeals to scientific advances and the retreat of metaphysics. God and Progress thus explores the ways in which divisions within British liberalism were fundamentally related to differences over the past, present, and future of religion. It also demonstrates that religious debate powered the process by which historicism acquired cultural authority in Victorian national life, and later began to lose it. The study reconstructs the ways in which theological dynamics, often relegated to the margins of nineteenth-century British intellectual history, effectively forged its leading patterns.
Praise for Jamaal May:

"Linguistically acrobatic [and] beautifully crafted. . . . [Jamaal May's] poems, exquisitely balanced by a sharp intelligence mixed with earnestness, makes his debut a marvel."—Publishers Weekly

Following Jamaal May's award-winning debut collection, Hum (2013), these new poems explore parallel landscapes of the poet's interior and an insidious American condition. Using dark humor that helps illuminate the pains of maturity and loss of imagination, May uncovers language like a skilled architect—digging up bones of the past to expose what lies beneath the surface of the fragile human condition.

From: "Ask Where I've Been":

Ask about the tornado of fists.
The blows landed. If you can
watch it all—the spit and blood frozen
against snow, you can probably tell
I am the too-narrow road winding out
of a crooked city built of laughter,
abandon, feathers and drums.
Ask only if you can watch streetlights bow,
bridges arc, and power lines sag,
and still believe what matters most
is not where I bend
but where I am growing.

Jamaal May is a poet, editor, and filmmaker from Detroit, Michigan, where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His poetry won the 2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize and appears in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, the Believer, NER, and the Kenyon Review. May has earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and The Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. He founded the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press.

"This gorgeous debut is a 'debut' in chronology only. . . . Need is everywhere—in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave."—Adrian Matejka

Phillip B. Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one's ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.

From "Agenda":

I.

While two women kissed in their house I watched
a jury hide bullets in a Black boy's body, all rigor mortis
and bass line. I landed in Chicago, a lead box.

The airport showed CNN and a Black mother
could not be heard over gate changes, bistro jazz.
Subtitles gathered and faded like gossip

while I made my mouth vacant in my hometown.
I carried a fever of insufferable noise that skin,
illuminated by a hoodie, held close, a forced kin.

Phillip B. Williams has authored two chapbooks: Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc.) and Burn (YesYes Books). A Cave Canem graduate, he received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Poetry, the Southern Review, West Branch , and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing as a Chancellor's Graduate Fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of Vinyl Poetry.

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