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Winner of the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry

Indecency is boldly and carefully executed and perfectly ragged. In these poems, Justin Phillip Reed experiments with language to explore inequity and injustice and to critique and lament the culture of white supremacy and the dominant social order. Political and personal, tender, daring, and insightful—the author unpacks his intimacies, weaponizing poetry to take on masculinity, sexuality, exploitation, and the prison industrial complex and unmask all the failures of the structures into which society sorts us.

ISBN-13: 9781566895149

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Coffee House Press

Publication Date: 05-08-2018

Pages: 112

Product Dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)

Justin Phillip Reed was born and raised in South Carolina. His work appears in African American Review, Best American Essays, Callaloo, the Kenyon Review, Obsidian, and elsewhere. He received an MFA in poetry from Washington University in St. Louis. The author of the chapbook A History of Flamboyance (YesYes Books, 2016), he has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Conversation Literary Festival. He lives in St. Louis.

Table of Contents

Performing a Warped Masculinity en Route to the Metro 1

Witness to the Woman I Am Not 2

Pushing up onto its elbows, the fable lifts itself into fact 6

Nothing Was Ever itself Only 8

Take It Out of the Boy 9

Any Unkindness 10

Portrait with Stiff Upper Lip 11

Slough 12

Anesthesia Is a Country You Leave for America 13

The Day _____ Died 15

Gateway 16

About a White City 18

A Statement from No One, Incorporated 25

The Requital 27

Snowfall Throws Its Pretty Noise upon a Weary Sameness 28

How to Keep It Down / Throw It Off / Defer until Asleep 29

On Being a Grid One Might Go Off Of 31

Retrograde 32

Untitled (We aint even posed to be here) 33

Porch Smoke: An Implication in Three Acts 34

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel 37

On Self-Reliance 38

Consent 39

Exit Hex 40

Orientation 41

Necessary Room 42

To Every Faggot Who Pulverized Me for Being a Faggot 43

Black Can Sleep 45

On Life as an Exercise in Preparing to Die 46

Carolina Prayer 47

Exchange 48

The Leak in This Old Building 51

The Fratricide 52

Theory for Expansion 54

They Speak of the Body and One Sits Up Straight 55

A Victim Dissolves into Tears 56

Paroxysm 58

Notes 69