i May 5th No Comments by

Cynthia Parker-Ohene

Like a traditional griot, Cynthia Parker-Ohene creates a world of wonder(ment). “Core Black Lives” are depicted in striking images that highlight places and pieces of history. The poems in Drapetomania are composed of a lush, crisp language that allows the reader to inhabit lands where “sons will not be stopped by 5 0” and where “dna leaches into birchbark.” Raw and polished, truth and sardonic, these poems unabashedly shine “in the stubborn light.”

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-9-1
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Memory of a Girl

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Aozora Brockman

In Memory of a Girl, memory loss is magnified through narrative poems wrought with intimate, familial Japanese terms & cultural customs. There’s the anguish of witnessing and caring for someone losing memories, but along with despair and frustration, Brockman extols the grace, bond, and strength that lingers through debilitation. She is an elegant storyteller.

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-7-7
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Strange-tongued Names

i May 5th No Comments by

Aaron Counts

With big guts Counts writes poems that are vivid—the language, sometimes a distinct mixture of empathy and gore. On subjects of hip-hop influence, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and his sparse Central District “Love Story” postcard poems, he is resolute in his depictions and accounts of dearth and inner-city blues. Strange-tongued Names represents an eloquent reflection on urban life.

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-8-4
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7 x 7 kwansabas

i May 5th No Comments by

Tara Betts

7×7 kwansabas brims with flashes of imagery. Words slam into each other as if in a race against time to define the characters she embodies her poems with. She primes her pen, revealing intricate details into the lives of the famous. The likes of Katherine Dunham, Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan rise up on the page, allowing the reader to discover and rediscover them.

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-4-6
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i May 5th No Comments by

C.P. Mangel

Laundry is a stunning poetry chapbook, filled with memorable characters and tons of artful turns of phrases. The narrative language never stops short or becomes laborious to read. Mangel has chosen a difficult subject matter to explore––prison life, and in particular, she deftly delves into the nature of hate crime within the prison system she imagines. She does so with aplomb, never resorting to cliché.

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-5-3
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In the Land of Tropical Martyrs

i May 5th No Comments by

Dariel Suarez

Though In the Land of Tropical Martyrs is a chapbook, it has the heft and authority of a full volume of poetry. Each of these poems is rich with the ache of urgent memory, living memory, memory that sings as the opposite of nostalgia and wakes us more fully to our own lives. ~Michael Hettich, author of Systems of Vanishing and The Animals Beyond Us

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-3-9
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Sea Island Blues

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Tyree Daye

…Daye writes of his home in the south, his family, his loves and losses, all with a grace and accuracy of image and language. Daye sings of hurricanes and hydrangeas, pond fishing, sun tea and the North Star, “that doesn’t lead to freedom anymore/ but you can follow it and still get killed.” ~Dorianne Laux, author of Facts About the Moon and The Book of Men

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-2-2
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Trace Particles

i May 5th No Comments by

Allison Joseph

…poems that are both smart and sensitive, Joseph sings of America’s promises, those broken, those kept, and
those just recently made. These are the poems of America’s heartland and America’s heart. ~Gerry LaFemina, author of Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist.

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-1-5
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Affairs With Men In Suits

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Eric Tran

With exquisite wit, Eric Tran turns the dirty secret of being in thrall to the creepiest guys into a wrenching meditation about power and its inexhaustible allure. ~Paul Lisicky, author of Unbuilt Projects

ISBN: 978-0-9915514-0-8
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2016 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize Winner

i Apr 4th No Comments by

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 4th Annual Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize. Our final judge, Reginald Dwayne Betts selected:  Ode to the Barbershop by Malcolm Friend. See his comments below:

“In these times of turmoil – maybe I should just say in America – the experience of black folks has often been relegated to one extreme or another. But the barbershop has always been something different: motley. Political and humorous. Dangerous and attentive to our vulnerabilities. Ode to the Barbershop captures that: “Call it oxymoron where to shed means to gain.” You hear that and recognize it, remember your last cut – maybe check your line up out in the mirror and make a point to visit the shop again soon. ~ Reginald Dwayne Betts
Ode to the Barbershop

call it oxymoron      where to shed    means    to gain

dead weight      of curls

falling to floor in waves—

this be baptism    by blade   or maybe phoenix reburst

birth by burn      of razor    and astringent            where astringent means

               yeah, your ass needed a cut   and      fuck happened to your line nigga?

thrown     from seller     to customer     and

first time I sat in the chair      was summer      freshman year of college

I didn’t know      the name of the haircut      I wanted

stuttered something vague       about taking it low       and nodded

at everything Tony said       in response       hoped he wouldn’t

fuck me up       would keep me fresh    and fitted       place where fitted

just means       fitting in       means       what won’t I do       for the benefit

                       of a lineup?           means       I knew I belonged       when I said nigga

and didn’t choke       on this this mutt blood       where this mutt blood

means       one time       a barber laughed

nigga your light-skinned ass must be swimming in bitches       where nigga

means       I swallowed my tongue     in response

and the bubbling in my throat    matched the hum   of the razor

Malcolm Friend is a CantoMundo fellow originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle Washington. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University where he was the 2014 recipient of the Merrill Moore Prize for Poetry, and is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a 2014 recipient of a Talbot International Award for writing. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including La Respuesta magazine, the Fjords Review’s Black American Edition, Alicante’s Información, Word Riot, The Acentos ReviewConnotation Press: An Online Artifact, and Pretty Owl Poetry.