10 Books Published by Alice James Books on AALBC — Book Cover Collage

Click for more detail about No Ruined Stone by Shara McCallum No Ruined Stone

by Shara McCallum
Alice James Books (Aug 10, 2021)
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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?

Click for more detail about Ghost, Like a Place by Iain Haley Pollock Ghost, Like a Place

by Iain Haley Pollock
Alice James Books (Sep 18, 2018)
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Pollock’s poetry draws from the violent history of America, showing how it inevitably influences young minds coming of age.

Click for more detail about Divida by Monica Hand Divida

by Monica Hand
Alice James Books (Apr 17, 2018)
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"DiVida: divided; DiVida: of life" The imaginary character who carries the name and sings her life is both DiVida and Sapphire, who sometimes replies to her musings, as one voice speaking for a universe of black women. Like syncopated masks, the voices of Hand’s book offer a new sense of double-consciousness. Her untimely death at the zenith of her career lends the last few poems, which anticipate death, a special fullness and poignancy." —Marilyn Nelson

Click for more detail about Madwoman by Shara McCallum Madwoman

by Shara McCallum
Alice James Books (Jan 10, 2017)
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These wonderful poems open a world of sensation and memory. But it is a world revealed by language, never just controlled. The voice that guides the action here is openhearted and open-minded—a lyric presence that never deserts the subject or the reader. Syntax, craft and cadence add to the gathering music from poem to poem with—to use a beautiful phrase from the book, ’each note tethering sound to meaning.’ —Eavan Boland

Haunting, alarming, transformative, and elusive, these poems bridge together the gaps between development stages: from girl, to woman, and then mother. With the complexities that intertwine them, can you be all three at once? Who shapes our identity, and who is in control here? How do we recognize, acknowledge, and honor the changing of who we are?

Little Soul

Little soul—kind, wandering—
body’s host and guest,

look how you’ve lowered yourself,
moving in a world of ice,

washed of colour. My girl,
what compelled you once

is no more.

Click for more detail about Thief in the Interior by Phillip B. Williams Thief in the Interior

by Phillip B. Williams
Alice James Books (Jan 12, 2016)
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Recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Poetry
2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award Winner
Nominated for the 2017 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry
2016 INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist
2017 Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award Finalist
2017 Lambda Literary Awards Winner
2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2017 Nominee for 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry
Shortlisted for Chicago Review of Books Award in Poetry
One of BET’s “12 Must-Read Books for 2016”
"This gorgeous debut is a ’debut’ in chronology only… . Need is everywhere?in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave."?Adrian MatejkaPhillip B. Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one’s ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.
A kiss. Train ride home from a late dinner,
City Hall and document signing. Wasn’t cold
but we cuddled in an empty car, legal.
Last month a couple of guys left a gay bar
and were beaten with poles on the way
to their car. No one called them faggot
so no hate crime’s documented. A beat down
is what some pray for, a pulse left to count.
We knew we weren’t protected. We knew
our rings were party favors, gold to steal
the shine from. We couldn’t protect us,
knew the law wouldn’t know how. Still, his
beard across my brow, the burn of his cologne.
When the train stopped, the people came on.

Click for more detail about Hum (Ala Notable Books for Adults) by Jamaal May Hum (Ala Notable Books for Adults)

by Jamaal May
Alice James Books (Nov 19, 2013)
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In May’s debut collection, poems buzz and purr like a well-oiled chassis. Grit, trial, and song thrum through tight syntax and deft prosody. From the resilient pulse of an abandoned machine to the sinuous lament of origami animals, here is the ever-changing hum that vibrates through us all, connecting one mind to the next.

“The elegant and laconic intelligence in these poems, their skepticism and bent humor and deliberately anti-Romantic stance toward experience are completely refreshing. After so much contemporary writing that seems all flash, no mind and no heart, these poems show how close observation of the world and a gift for plain-spoken, but eloquent speech, can give to poetry both dignity and largeness of purpose, and do it in an idiom that is pitch perfect to emotional nuance and fine intellectual distinctions. Hard-headed and tough-minded, Hum is the epitome of what Frost meant by a fresh look and a fresh listen”—Tom Sleigh

“Jamaal May’s debut collection, Hum, is concerned with what’s beneath the surfaces of things—the unseen that eats away at us or does the work of sustaining us. Reading these poems, I was reminded of Ellison’s ‘slower frequencies,’s a voice speaking for us all. May has a fine ear, acutely attuned to the sonic textures of everyday experience. And Hum—a meditation on the machinery of living, an extended ode to sound and silence—is a compelling debut.”—Natasha Trethewey

† “In his percussive debut collection Hum, Jamaal May offers a salve for our phobias and restores the sublime to the urban landscape. Whether you need a friend to confide in, a healer to go to, or a tour guide to take you there, look no further. That low hum you hear are these poems, emanating both wisdom and swagger.”—A. Van Jordan

† From ""Mechanophobia: Fear of Machines"":
† There is no work left for the husks.
† Automated welders like us,
† your line replacements, can’t expect
† sympathy after our bright
† arms of cable rust over. So come
† collect us for scrap, grind us up
† in the mouth of one of us.
† Let your hand pry at the access
† panel with the edge of a knife,
† silencing the motor and thrum.
† Jamaal May

†is a poet and editor from Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first full-length collection is Hum (Alice James Books, 2013). Individual poems have been awarded the 2013 Indiana Review Prize and appear in journals such as The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, and the Believer. Jamaal has earned an MFA from Warren Wilson and fellowships from Cave Canem and Bucknell University. He is founding editor of the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press and a visiting faculty member in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.

Click for more detail about me and Nina by Monica Hand me and Nina

by Monica Hand
Alice James Books (Feb 14, 2012)
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"Monica Hand’s me and Nina is a beautiful book by a soul survivor. In these poems she sings deep songs of violated intimacy and the hard work of repair. The poems are unsentimental, blood-red, and positively true, note for note, like the singing of Nina Simone herself. Hand has written a moving, deeply satisfying, and unforgettable book."—Elizabeth AlexanderIn an intimate conversation with the "High Priestess of Soul," Monica A. Hand surveys the places and moods of alienation through poems that are as musical and stylistically diverse as Nina Simone’s work. Hand readily embraces a "mass hypnosis" style, putting "a spell on [us]" with her intensely passionate cries and commitment to embracing both tragedy and exuberance in these insightful poems.From "Dear Nina":I am not recession
crooked line
broken line
polka dot
parking lot
or spotI am a Gift from God
I know thatI am anun-kept
solo songMonica A. Hand is a poet and book artist currently living in Harlem, New York. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Aunt Chloe, Black Renaissance Noire, The Sow’s Ear, Drunken Boat, Beyond the Frontier, African-American Poetry for the 21st Century, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in poetry and poetry in translation from Drew University and is a founding member of Poets for Ayiti.

Click for more detail about This Strange Land [With CD (Audio)] by Shara McCallum This Strange Land [With CD (Audio)]

by Shara McCallum
Alice James Books (May 17, 2011)
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Includes CD (Audio)

These poems probe the definition of Motherland. Shara McCallum homogenizes childhood memories of her native Jamaica with a revised understanding of danger and corruption, teasing out notions of history, language, motherhood, rupture, memory, and identity. She weaves new cloth of oral tradition, struggling to arrange a comfort zone within the foreign manufactures of suburbia. Hers is the skilled music of a master.

Click for more detail about Shahid Reads His Own Palm by Reginald Dwayne Betts Shahid Reads His Own Palm

by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Alice James Books (Jun 01, 2010)
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Reginald Dwayne Betts sings mournfully, bearing witness within prisoners’ cells, pulling readers to walk through a brutal underworld.

Click for more detail about The Devil’s Garden by Adrian Matejka The Devil’s Garden

by Adrian Matejka
Alice James Books (Oct 01, 2003)
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Winner of the 2002 New York / New England Award†Selected as one of the "Five Best Books of Poetry in 2003" by Black Issues Book Review

Using musical allusion and metaphor, juxtaposing history and autobiography, Matejka navigates a triracial identity. In these poems, having too many heritages means having no heritage at all. As a result, cultural identifiers—be they afros, war paint, or William Shatner—take the place of identity. Vibrant narrative lyrics use image as riff, syllable as note, to improvise on a personal history severed from tradition.