Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominees and Winning Books

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Winning Books

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award™ honors the best in Black literature. Introduced in 2001, the Legacy Award was the first national award presented to Black writers by a national organization of Black writers. Fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction, and poetry honorees are selected in a juried competition. Each October, the award winners are celebrated during a gala that draws hundreds of literary stars, readers, representatives of the publishing industry, the arts, media, politics, and academia. Learn more at the Hurston/Wright Foundation’s website


21 Books Honored by the National Book Foundation in 2022

Nominee - Debut Fiction

This Life
by Quntos Kunquest

Publication Date: Jun 08, 2021
List Price: $18.00
Format: Paperback, 250 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781572842823
Imprint: Agate Bolden
Publisher: Agate Publishing, Inc
Parent Company: Agate Publishing, Inc

Read a Description of This Life


Book Description: 
This Life is the debut novel by Quntos KunQuest, a longtime inmate at Angola, the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary. This marks the appearance of a bold, distinctive new voice, one deeply inflected by hiphop, that delves into the meaning of a life spent behind bars, the human bonds formed therein, and the poetry that even those in the most dire places can create.

Lil Chris is just nineteen when he arrives at Angola as an AU—an admitting unit, a fresh fish, a new vict. He’s got a life sentence with no chance of parole, but he’s also got a clear mind and sharp awareness—one that picks up quickly on the details of the system, his fellow inmates, and what he can do to claim a place at the top. When he meets Rise, a mature inmate who’s already spent years in the system, and whose composure and raised consciousness command the respect of the other prisoners, Lil Chris learns to find his way in a system bent on repressing every means he has to express himself.

Lil Chris and Rise channel their questions, frustrations, and pain into rap, and This Life flows with the same cadence that powers their charged verses. It pulses with the heat of impassioned inmates, the oppressive daily routines of the prison yard, and the rap contests that bring the men of the prison together.

This Life is told in a voice that only a man who’s lived it could have—a clipped, urgent, evocative voice that surges with anger, honesty, playfulness, and a deep sense of ugly history. Angola started out as a plantation—and as This Life makes clear, black inmates are still in a kind of enslavement there. This Life is an important debut that commands our attention with the vigor, dynamism, and raw, consciousness-expanding energy of this essential new voice.

Nominee - Debut Fiction

Young Blood
by Sifiso Mzobe

    Publication Date: Apr 13, 2021
    List Price: $16.95
    Format: Paperback, 320 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781946395481
    Imprint: Catalyst Press
    Publisher: Catalyst Press
    Parent Company: Catalyst Press

    Read a Description of Young Blood


    Book Description: 

    2022 Shortlist, Hurston/Wright Legacy AwardWinner, Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in AfricaWinner, 2011 Herman Charles Bosman AwardWinner, Sunday Times Fiction PrizeWinner, The Sunday Times Literary Award.

    Sipho, a 17-year-old from the Umlazi township, drops out of high school and joins a car hijacking syndicate to make a name for himself and escape his family’s low-income life. Along with hijacking partners Musa and Vusi, Sipho learns the tricks of the dangerous trade and pushes deeper into the underbelly of Umlazi under the guidance of gang leader Sibani, while partying heavily and juggling different women nightly alongside his longtime girlfriend Nana.

    Candid and unapologetic, Young Blood is the story of the intricate balance of circumstance and choice, swift gain and incredible loss, as Sipho finds out how far he can push his luck before the damage is irrevocable - and the consequences deadly. Both a red-hot crime novel of car heists, sex, and rival gangs and a coming of age story of a teenager navigating the costs of the fast life, Young Blood reveals the devastating violence and raw beauty of life in South Africa’s townships.


    Nominee - Debut Fiction

    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    by Dawnie Walton

    Publication Date: Mar 30, 2021
    List Price: $27.00
    Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781982140168
    Imprint: Atria / 37 Ink
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
    Parent Company: CBS Corporation

    Read a Description of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev


    Book Description: 
    An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic 1970s rock duo, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite for one last tour.

    Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

    In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

    Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

    Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.

    Nominee - Fiction

    The Rib King
    by Ladee Hubbard

    Publication Date: Dec 07, 2021
    List Price: $16.99
    Format: Paperback, 336 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9780062979070
    Imprint: Amistad
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Parent Company: News Corporation

    Read a Description of The Rib King


    Book Description: 

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    "Ultimately the reason to read The Rib King is not its timeliness or its insight into politics or Black culture, but because it accomplishes what the best fiction sets out to do: It drops you into a world you could not otherwise visit and makes you care deeply about what happens there."—BookPage (starred review)

    The acclaimed author of The Talented Ribkins deconstructs painful African American stereotypes and offers a fresh and searing critique on race, class, privilege, ambition, exploitation, and the seeds of rage in America in this intricately woven and masterfully executed historical novel, set in early the twentieth century that centers around the black servants of a down-on-its heels upper-class white family.

    For fifteen years August Sitwell has worked for the Barclays, a well-to-do white family who plucked him from an orphan asylum and gave him a job. The groundskeeper is part of the household’s all-black staff, along with "Miss Mamie," the talented cook, pretty new maid Jennie Williams, and three young kitchen apprentices—the latest orphan boys Mr. Barclay has taken in to civilize boys like August.

    But the Barclays fortunes have fallen, and their money is almost gone. When a prospective business associate proposes selling Miss Mamie’s delicious rib sauce to local markets under the brand name "The Rib King"—using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label—Mr. Barclay, desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see a dime. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy.

    Elegantly written and exhaustively researched, The Rib King is an unsparing examination of America’s fascination with black iconography and exploitation that redefines African American stereotypes in literature. In this powerful, disturbing, and timely novel, Ladee Hubbard reveals who people actually are, and most importantly, who and what they are not.


    Nominee - Fiction

    Reconstruction: Stories
    by Alaya Dawn Johnson

    Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020
    List Price: $17.00
    Format: Paperback, 256 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781618731777
    Imprint: Small Beer Press
    Publisher: Small Beer Press
    Parent Company: Small Beer Press

    Read a Description of Reconstruction: Stories


    Book Description: 
    In Reconstruction Award-winning writer and musician Johnson digs into the lives of those trodden underfoot by the powers that be: from the lives of vampires and those caught in their circle in Hawai’i to a taxonomy of anger put together by Union soldiers in the American Civil War, these stories will grab you and not let you go.

    Nominee - Fiction

    Nazaré
    by JJ Amaworo Wilson

    Publication Date: Nov 09, 2021
    List Price: $24.95
    Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781629639208
    Imprint: PM Press
    Publisher: PM Press
    Parent Company: PM Press

    Read a Description of Nazaré


    Book Description: 

    Nazaré tells the story of a peasants’ revolt in the polyglot city of Balaal. The story begins with a miracle. A homeless boy sees a whale washed up on the beach. He alerts the local fishermen, and soon the whole town is trying and failing to push it back into the ocean. With just the boy left to accompany the whale now in its dying throes, a freak wave pulls the creature back into the sea. This is an omen. Change is coming.

    The boy and the washerwoman who adopts him cobble together a ramshackle army of fishermen, shopkeepers, lapsed nuns, anarchist bats, and an itinerant camel. They attempt to end the reign of the dictator who rules over Balaal. Their attempt involves pitched battles, farcical trials, rooftop escapes, and sun-parched wanderings in the wilderness. Looming over the disparate cast of characters is the legend of the giant wave—Nazaré—that will one day annihilate everyone and everything in the city.

    Nazaré is an adventure and a parable that pits the oppressed against the oppressor. The work has been likened to that of Gabriel Garc a M rquez and Mario Vargas Llosa in its use of language, its inventiveness, its humor, and its examination of issues of justice.


    Nominee - Fiction

    The Perishing
    by Natashia Deón

    Publication Date: Nov 09, 2021
    List Price: $26.00
    Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781640093027
    Imprint: Counterpoint
    Publisher: Counterpoint
    Parent Company: Counterpoint

    Read a Description of The Perishing


    Book Description: 

    A Black immortal in 1930’s Los Angeles must recover the memory of her past in order to discover who she truly is in this extraordinarily affecting novel for readers of N. K. Jemisin and Octavia E. Butler.

    Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles with no memory of how she got there or where she’s from. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She’ll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou’s extraordinary life is about to take an even more remarkable turn. When she befriends a firefighter at a downtown boxing gym, Lou is shocked to realize that though she has no memory of meeting him, she’s been drawing his face for years.

    Increasingly certain that their paths previously crossed—and beset by unexplainable flashes from different eras haunting her dreams—Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent here for a very important reason, one that only others like her can explain. Setting out to investigate the mystery of her existence, Lou must make sense of the jumble of lifetimes calling to her, just as new forces threaten the existence of those around her.

    Immersed in the rich historical tapestry of Los Angeles—Prohibition, the creation of Route 66, and the collapse of the St. Francis Dam—The Perishing is a stunning examination of love and justice through the eyes of one miraculous woman whose fate seems linked to the city she comes to call home.


    Nominee - Fiction

    The Trees
    by Percival Everett

    Publication Date: Sep 21, 2021
    List Price: $16.00
    Format: Paperback, 288 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781644450642
    Imprint: Graywolf Press
    Publisher: Graywolf Press
    Parent Company: Graywolf Press

    Read a Description of The Trees


    Book Description: 

    An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of Telephone

    Percival Everett’s The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till.

    The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence, and does so in a fast-paced style that ensures the reader can’t look away. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America’s pulse.


    Nominee - Fiction

    Yellow Wife
    by Sadeqa Johnson

    Publication Date: Jan 12, 2021
    List Price: $26.00
    Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781982149109
    Imprint: Simon & Schuster
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
    Parent Company: CBS Corporation

    Read a Description of Yellow Wife


    Book Description: 
    "Wholly engrossing, exquisitely researched, and so timely. Sadeqa Johnson brings a fresh telling to a story we think we already know, making it beautifully relatable and human. Riveting and suspenseful, I highly recommend this novel." —Kathleen Grissom New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

    This harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

    Born on a plantation in Charles City Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a privileged life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the plantation’s medicine woman, and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

    Freedom on her eighteenth birthday has been promised to her, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous "Devil’s Half-Acre," a jail where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day in Richmond, Virginia. There Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailor’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive Pheby will have to outwit him but soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

    Nominee - Nonfiction Historical/Social/Political

    Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound
    by Daphne A. Brooks

    Publication Date: Feb 23, 2021
    List Price: $39.95
    Format: Hardcover, 608 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9780674052819
    Imprint: Belknap Press
    Publisher: Harvard University Press
    Parent Company: Harvard University

    Read a Description of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound


    Book Description: 

    An award-winning Black feminist music critic takes us on an epic journey through radical sound from Bessie Smith to Beyoncé.

    Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a century of music archives to examine the critics, collectors, and listeners who have determined perceptions of Black women on stage and in the recording studio. How is it possible, she asks, that iconic artists such as Aretha Franklin and Beyonc exist simultaneously at the center and on the fringe of the culture industry?

    Liner Notes for the Revolution offers a startling new perspective on these acclaimed figures—a perspective informed by the overlooked contributions of other Black women concerned with the work of their musical peers. Zora Neale Hurston appears as a sound archivist and a performer, Lorraine Hansberry as a queer Black feminist critic of modern culture, and Pauline Hopkins as America’s first Black female cultural commentator. Brooks tackles the complicated racial politics of blues music recording, song collecting, and rock and roll criticism. She makes lyrical forays into the blues pioneers Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith, as well as fans who became critics, like the record-label entrepreneur and writer Rosetta Reitz. In the twenty-first century, pop superstar Janelle Monae’s liner notes are recognized for their innovations, while celebrated singers Cecile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens, and Valerie June take their place as cultural historians.

    With an innovative perspective on the story of Black women in popular music—and who should rightly tell it—Liner Notes for the Revolution pioneers a long overdue recognition and celebration of Black women musicians as radical intellectuals.


    Nominee - Nonfiction Historical/Social/Political

    Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War
    by Howard W. French

    Publication Date: Oct 12, 2021
    List Price: $35.00
    Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781631495823
    Imprint: Liveright Publishing Corporation
    Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
    Parent Company: Liveright Publishing Corporation

    Read a Description of Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War


    Book Description: 

    Revealing the central yet intentionally obliterated role of Africa in the creation of modernity, Born in Blackness vitally reframes our understanding of world history.

    Traditional accounts of the making of the modern world afford a place of primacy to European history. Some credit the fifteenth-century Age of Discovery and the maritime connection it established between West and East; others the accidental unearthing of the “New World.” Still others point to the development of the scientific method, or the spread of Judeo-Christian beliefs; and so on, ad infinitum. The history of Africa, by contrast, has long been relegated to the remote outskirts of our global story. What if, instead, we put Africa and Africans at the very center of our thinking about the origins of modernity?

    In a sweeping narrative spanning more than six centuries, Howard W. French does just that, for Born in Blackness vitally reframes the story of medieval and emerging Africa, demonstrating how the economic ascendancy of Europe, the anchoring of democracy in the West, and the fulfillment of so-called Enlightenment ideals all grew out of Europe’s dehumanizing engagement with the “dark” continent. In fact, French reveals, the first impetus for the Age of Discovery was not—as we are so often told, even today—Europe’s yearning for ties with Asia, but rather its centuries-old desire to forge a trade in gold with legendarily rich Black societies sequestered away in the heart of West Africa.

    Creating a historical narrative that begins with the commencement of commercial relations between Portugal and Africa in the fifteenth century and ends with the onset of World War II, Born in Blackness interweaves precise historical detail with poignant, personal reportage. In so doing, it dramatically retrieves the lives of major African historical figures, from the unimaginably rich medieval emperors who traded with the Near East and beyond, to the Kongo sovereigns who heroically battled seventeenth-century European powers, to the ex-slaves who liberated Haitians from bondage and profoundly altered the course of American history.

    While French cogently demonstrates the centrality of Africa to the rise of the modern world, Born in Blackness becomes, at the same time, a far more significant narrative, one that reveals a long-concealed history of trivialization and, more often, elision in depictions of African history throughout the last five hundred years. As French shows, the achievements of sovereign African nations and their now-far-flung peoples have time and again been etiolated and deliberately erased from modern history. As the West ascended, their stories—siloed and piecemeal—were swept into secluded corners, thus setting the stage for the hagiographic “rise of the West” theories that have endured to this day.

    “Capacious and compelling” (Laurent Dubois), Born in Blackness is epic history on the grand scale. In the lofty tradition of bold, revisionist narratives, it reframes the story of gold and tobacco, sugar and cotton—and of the greatest “commodity” of them all, the twelve million people who were brought in chains from Africa to the “New World,” whose reclaimed lives shed a harsh light on our present world.


    Nominee - Nonfiction Historical/Social/Political

    We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice
    by Mariame Kaba

    Publication Date: Feb 23, 2021
    List Price: $16.95
    Format: Paperback, 240 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781642595253
    Imprint: Haymarket Books
    Publisher: Haymarket Books
    Parent Company: Haymarket Books

    Read a Description of We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice


    Book Description: 

    “Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you’re going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to.”

    What if social transformation and liberation isn’t about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle.

    With chapters on seeking justice beyond the punishment system, transforming how we deal with harm and accountability, and finding hope in collective struggle for abolition, Kaba’s work is deeply rooted in the relentless belief that we can fundamentally change the world. As Kaba writes, “Nothing that we do that is worthwhile is done alone.”


    Nominee - Nonfiction Memoir/Biography

    Book Description: 

    Farah Jasmine Griffin has taken to her heart the phrase read until you understand, a line her father, who died when she was nine, wrote in a note to her. She has made it central to this book about love of the majestic power of words and love of the magnificence of Black life.

    Griffin has spent years rooted in the culture of Black genius and the legacy of books that her father left her. A beloved professor, she has devoted herself to passing these works and their wisdom on to generations of students.

    Here, she shares a lifetime of discoveries: the ideas that inspired the stunning oratory of Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X, the soulful music of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, the daring literature of Phillis Wheatley and Toni Morrison, the inventive artistry of Romare Bearden, and many more. Exploring these works through such themes as justice, rage, self-determination, beauty, joy, and mercy allows her to move from her aunt’s love of yellow roses to Gil Scott-Heron’s Winter in America.

    Griffin entwines memoir, history, and art while she keeps her finger on the pulse of the present, asking us to grapple with the continuing struggle for Black freedom and the ongoing project that is American democracy. She challenges us to reckon with our commitment to all the nation’s inhabitants and our responsibilities to all humanity.


    Nominee - Nonfiction Memoir/Biography

    Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay
    by Shanna Greene Benjamin

    Publication Date: Apr 12, 2021
    List Price: $26.95
    Format: Paperback, 280 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781469662534
    Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
    Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
    Parent Company: The University of North Carolina

    Read a Description of Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay


    Book Description: 

    Nellie Y. McKay (1930-2006) was a pivotal figure in contemporary American letters. The author of several books, McKay is best known for coediting the canon-making Norton Anthology of African American Literature with Henry Louis Gates Jr., which helped secure a place for the scholarly study of Black writing that had been ignored by white academia.

    However, there is more to McKay’s life and legacy than her literary scholarship. After her passing, new details about McKay’s life emerged, surprising everyone who knew her. Why did McKay choose to hide so many details of her past? Shanna Greene Benjamin examines McKay’s path through the professoriate to learn about the strategies, sacrifices, and successes of contemporary Black women in the American academy.

    Benjamin shows that McKay’s secrecy was a necessary tactic that a Black, working-class woman had to employ to succeed in the white-dominated space of the American English department. Using extensive archives and personal correspondence, Benjamin brings together McKay’s private life and public work to expand how we think about Black literary history and the place of Black women in American culture.




    Nominee - Nonfiction Memoir/Biography

    Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist’s Freedom Song
    by Marlon Peterson

    Publication Date: Apr 13, 2021
    List Price: $28.00
    Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781645036517
    Imprint: Bold Type Books
    Publisher: Hachette Book Group
    Parent Company: Hachette Livre

    Read a Description of Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist’s Freedom Song


    Book Description: From a leading prison abolitionist, a moving memoir about coming of age in Brooklyn and surviving incarceration—and a call to break free from all the cages that confine us.

    Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At nineteen, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served ten long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.

    In Bird Uncaged, Peterson challenges the typical "redemption" narrative and our assumptions about justice. With vulnerability and insight, he uncovers the many cages—from the daily violence and trauma of poverty, to policing, to enforced masculinity, and the brutality of incarceration—created and maintained by American society.

    Bird Uncaged is a twenty-first-century abolitionist memoir, and a powerful debut that demands a shift from punishment to healing, an end to prisons, and a new vision of justice.

    Nominee - Poetry

    Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2021
    by Yusef Komunyakaa

    Publication Date: Jun 14, 2022
    List Price: $20.00
    Format: Paperback, 288 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9780374604851
    Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Publisher: Macmillan Publishers
    Parent Company: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group

    Read a Description of Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2021


    Book Description: 

    New and selected poems from the great Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa

    These songs run along dirt roads
    & highways, crisscross lonely seas
    & scale mountains, traverse skies
    & underworlds of neon honkytonk,
    Wherever blues dare to travel.

    Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth brings together selected poems from the past twenty years of Yusef Komunyakaa’s work, as well as new poems from the Pulitzer Prize winner. His masterful, concise verse conjures arresting images of peace and war, the natural power of the earth and of love, his childhood in the American South and his service in Vietnam, the ugly violence of racism in America, and the meaning of power and morality.

    The new poems in this collection add a new refrain to the jazz-inflected rhythms of one of our “most significant and individual voices” (David Wojahn, Poetry). Komunyakaa writes of a young man fashioning a slingshot, workers who “honor the Earth by opening shine / inside the soil,” and the sounds of a saxophone filling a dim lounge in New Jersey. As April Bernard wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “He refuses to be trivial; and he even dares beauty.”


    Nominee - Poetry

    A More Perfect Union
    by Teri Ellen Cross Davis

    Publication Date: Feb 10, 2021
    List Price: $14.95
    Format: Paperback, 74 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9780814257784
    Imprint: Mad Creek Books
    Publisher: Ohio University Press
    Parent Company: Ohio University

    Read a Description of A More Perfect Union


    Book Description: 

    In the tender, sensual, and bracing poems of a more perfect Union, Teri Ellen Cross Davis reclaims the experience of living and mothering while Black in contemporary America, centering Black women’s pleasure by wresting it away from the relentless commodification of the White gaze. Cross Davis deploys stunning emotional range to uplift the mundane, interrogate the status quo, and ultimately create her own goddesses. Parenting, lust, household chores—all are fair game for Cross Davis’s gimlet eye. Whether honoring her grief for Prince’s passing while examining his role in midwifing her sexual awakening or contemplating travel and the gamble of being Black across this wide world, these poems tirelessly seek a path out of the labyrinth to hope.


    Nominee - Poetry

    I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love
    by Mahogany L. Browne

    Publication Date: Sep 14, 2021
    List Price: $16.00
    Format: Paperback, 100 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9781642595703
    Imprint: Haymarket Books
    Publisher: Haymarket Books
    Parent Company: Haymarket Books

    Read a Description of I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love


    Book Description: 

    Mahogany L. Browne’s evocative book-length poem explores the impacts of the prison system on both the incarcerated and the loved ones left behind.

    I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love is an expansive poetic meditation on who we think is bound by incarceration. The answer: all of us. Weaving personal narrative, case studies, and inventive form, Browne invokes the grief, pain, and resilience in the violent wake of the prison system. This poem is dirge work but allows us to revel in the intricacies of our human condition. Written by a beloved and prolific writer, organizer, and educator, this work serves as a practice of self-reflection and accountability. Browne steps into the lineage of Sonia Sanchez’s Does Your House Have Lions? with the precision of a master wordsmith and the empathy of an attentive storyteller.


    Nominee - Poetry

    Tragic City
    by Clemonce Heard

    Publication Date: Oct 10, 2021
    List Price: $22.00
    Format: Paperback, 128 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9781934695715
    Imprint: Anhinga Press
    Publisher: Anhinga Press
    Parent Company: Anhinga Press, Inc.

    Read a Description of Tragic City


    Book Description: 

    Heard’s sojourn in Tulsa and the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre comes to a head in these poems that investigate the incident’s resounding trauma with lyric and historic precision. The absence of reckoning a century after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is soldered together by a series of poems based on Heard’s time living on the fringes of the city’s art district and what was once Greenwood, Tulsa’s thriving Black neighborhood. Heard blends survivor testimonies, myths, and present intelligence with his own lived experience and a farrago of forms to feel his way to a more intuitive truth of what isn’t documented.


    Nominee - Poetry

    No Ruined Stone
    by Shara McCallum

    Publication Date: Aug 10, 2021
    List Price: $18.95
    Format: Paperback, 100 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9781948579193
    Imprint: Alice James Books
    Publisher: Alice James Books
    Parent Company: University of Maine at Farmington

    Read a Description of No Ruined Stone


    Book Description: 

    No Ruined Stone is a verse sequence rooted in the life of 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns. In 1786, Burns arranged to migrate to Jamaica to work on a slave plantation, a plan he ultimately abandoned. Voiced by a fictive Burns and his fictional granddaughter, a “mulatta” passing for white, the book asks: what would have happened had he gone?


    Nominee - Poetry

    Sho
    by Douglas Kearney

    Publication Date: Apr 06, 2021
    List Price: $18.00
    Format: Paperback, 104 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9781950268153
    Imprint: Wave Books
    Publisher: Wave Books
    Parent Company: Wave Books

    Read a Description of Sho


    Book Description: 

    Eschewing series and performative typography, Douglas Kearney’s Sho aims to hit crooked licks with straight-seeming sticks. Navigating the complex penetrability of language, these poems are sonic in their espousal of Black vernacular traditions, while examining histories, pop culture, myth, and folklore. Both dazzling and devastating, Sho is a genius work of literary precision, wordplay, farce, and critical irony. In his “stove-like imagination,” Kearney has concocted poems that destabilize the spectacle, leaving looky-loos with an important uncertainty about the intersection between violence and entertainment.