These quiet, descriptive poems blaze with an inferno of lamenting and loving muses as a son helplessly watches his father suffer from a debilitating illness. The inquisitive voice of the speaker gently paints an emotional landscape ranging from childhood to the present, while trying to find glimpses of happiness in the imminent sorrow.
“This brilliant book tells a hell-forged truth with angelic music, making devastating beauty from the elemental and agonized relation between father and son—at once a war and a loss and a tether, a home. Through the cruel truth there is love; even in the deepest pit there’s light. This nocturnal-hearted poet’s not likely looking for it but there it is, still falling all over his burning, metallic, ruinous discoveries. There it is: love and brutality mixed together in epic scenes. No judgment, no transcendence—no way out of the mire. Cerpa’s is a magnificent talent—a yawp made for this very moment, and a voice for the ages.”—Brenda Shaughnessy
Andrés Cerpa was raised in Staten Island, New York and spent many of his childhood summers in Puerto Rico. A recipient of fellowships from the McDowell Colony and Canto Mundo, his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poem-A-Day, The Kenyon Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, Frontier Poetry, West Branch, Foundry Journal, Wildness + elsewhere. He holds degrees from the University of Delaware and Rutgers University Newark.
Cortney Lamar Charleston is a Cave Canem fellow from the Chicago suburbs. His debut collection, Telepathologies, won the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, selected by D.A. Powell. He began writing and performing poetry as a member of The Excelano Project when he was an undergraduate studying economics and urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His poetry is a marriage between art and activism, and a call for a more involved and empathetic understanding of the diversity of the human experience. In 2017, Charleston was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death, Big Towns Big Talk, Life According to Motown; the children's book Janna and the Kings and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir.