The Malevolent Volume explores the myths and transformations of Black being, on a continuum between the monstrous and the sublime.
"I’d quote a few of the breathtaking detonations across this incredible collection if there weren’t so many. On every page the intimacies of mind and body, myth and memory are simultaneously sung and said. It’s not quite enough to salute the literary ties and tangles, the range and urgency of subjects, the layered lyric linguistics. The Malevolent Volume is roundly astounding. Reed is making a new and wholly irreducible line through the waters of American poetry." —Terrance Hayes
"’Its trumpets, they will ramify.’ Deliberate in its every movement, this collection is a most satisfying force of will. Justin Phillip Reed’s follow-up, The Malevolent Volume, is a masterpiece to which I will ’be always arriving.’ If our work as poets is to transform what most would call violence and what beasts accept as natural, this is a blueprint for how to do so ethically and masterfully. Here, in word, is a guttural and gutting music. Every poem becomes a new and necessary etymology of ’malevolent.’ The beast in me bows to the beast in you, Justin. This is a restorative Black eco-poetics; where afropessimism meets afrofuturism." —Marwa Helal
"Horror is a genre of encounters not with the unknown, but with what is most familiar—and therefore most unshakeable. If it is a monstrous language that Justin Phillip Reed employs in The Malevolent Volume, it’s a monster you already know well. Reed is a master of many things—meter, momentum, lexical richness, the musculature of syntax, how to haunt an insistently violent canon—but perhaps chief among them is the dark magic of harnessing language’s wilds into something that blooms into a real shout inside you. You must understand: it’s not strangeness you’re seeing here. It is audacity—the audacity of the queer, Black body, the brilliant body, which won’t, and won’t, and won’t die.&rdquo —Franny Choi
Praise for Justin Phillip Reed
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Poetry
Recipient of a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship
Winner of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry
Finalist for the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award
BCALA 2019 Honor Best Poetry Award winner
Library Journal, "Best Books 2018"
"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." —National Book Foundation
"Reed’s visceral and teasingly cerebral debut probes black identity, sexuality, and violence and is inseparably personal and political. He displays a searing sense of injustice about dehumanizing systems, and his speakers evoke the quotidian with formidable eloquence . . ." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[Reed’s] poems take up the body in desire and violence, and they do so by thrusting the reader into a stark visceral encounter with their material." —The New York Times
"Raw, nervy, reverberant, densely packed language whose import simply can’t be reduced to easy explanation . . . One-of-a-kind brilliant." —Library Journal
"Indecency made me stand up and applaud." —The Millions
"Reed’s poems are formally inventive, especially when he works in concrete ways on the page. . . . The reader winds up in a new place without realizing they were being moved there." —The Rumpus
"Rich with musical echoes and sonic ironies." —Vulture
"Reed’s wit and formal experimentation, quicksilver and luminous, shows the world as it is, while detailing how the very people that society most devalues, demeans, and seeks to destroy are its true visionaries." —The Adroit Journal
"Reed wrestles with finding the language to convey the pain of that double oppression and still manages to create terrible beauty." —Signature
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