"This singular poetry collection is a dynamic meditation on the experience of, and societal narratives surrounding, contemporary black womanhood. . . . These exquisite poems defy categorization." —The New YorkerThe only thing more beautiful than Beyoncé is God, and God is a black woman sipping rosé and drawing a lavender bath, texting her mom, belly-laughing in the therapist’s office, feeling unloved, being on display, daring to survive. Morgan Parker stands at the intersections of vulnerability and performance, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence. Unrelentingly feminist, tender, ruthless, and sequined, these poems are an altar to the complexities of black American womanhood in an age of non-indictments and deja vu, and a time of wars over bodies and power. These poems celebrate and mourn. They are a chorus chanting: You’re gonna give us the love we need.
"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.
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.
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.