4 Books Published by Aqueduct Press on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about Sleeping Under the Tree of Life by Sheree Renee Thomas Sleeping Under the Tree of Life

by Sheree Renee Thomas
Aqueduct Press (Aug 01, 2016)
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Sleeping under the Tree of Life evokes the realm of ancestral knowledge with a deep respect for the natural world, a love of language, and an invitation—for survival, and asks: Who survives without being transformed? Beneath luminous layers of imagery and mythology, science and nature, fantasy and the recounting of history, is the grace and tenderness of a poet’s heart, the unwavering gaze of an oracle’s vision, and the dreamlike whimsy of a storyteller’s mind. Hope, love, and hard truths spring from these pages of a writer whose imagination conjures an unforgettable journey. Readers enter these poems and stories the way some souls enter church, a quiet garden, or a stand of trees—for rest, for the blessing of silence and reverie, for beauty if not redemption.

Advance Praise

“Sleeping Under the Tree of Life is a feat of literary conjuration. Poetry, prose combine in a mythic discourse that combines African, Indigenous, and European tropes to explore the power and plaints of woman hood; the thin line between life and death; the power of the Fates; the volatility of nature; a desire for and the achievement of transformation… The texts here offer a profound understanding of the Black American South—where trees are sources of shade and succor or memorials to humanity’s murderous traits. And it is a sly portrait of Memphis, Tennessee, Thomas’ hometown. This is a bold book full of taller than tall tales and delicate lyrics-where birth, death, sex, magic and discovery walk the same path and haunt the writer’s dreams. Join her on this journey and find out what it is like to sleep under that tree.” —Patricia Spears Jones, author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected, Painkiller, Femme du Monde, and The Weather That Kills

“These are wise women poems, country lush, bound by myth and science. Thomas’s exquisite language inhabits constellations, delta crossroads and the deepest forest to explore our collective troubles. Thomas is also a master storyteller weaving a devilish braid of ancestral reclamation; of sirens, goddesses and elders wrapped in new world grit and a modern hoodoo evocative of the pastoralism of Jean Toomer. This powerful collection is a call to ‘save us from ruin.’” —Jacqueline Johnson, author of A Woman’s Season

“‘Out of the mouth of this holler,’ Sheree Renée Thomas’ Sleeping Under the Tree of Life springs to life—to give us life. Continuing the work she set out with her Dark Matter anthologies and her first collection, Shotgun Lullabies, Thomas, in this pristine, poised narrative of our beginnings, extends and expands the dialogic paradigm of an art form and genre the world is finally catching up to, to go beyond what Michael McDonald and James Ingram sing— ‘Yah Mo Be There!’—to take us back to the future of an Africa that said/that says, as the Bantu— ‘Nommo Be There!’ In Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Sheree Renée Thomas collages together a narrative of necessity where her full literary powers and prowess are on full display like a Dogon cup from an ancient river where we drink in the magic of winged words necessitating change, each poem and prose piece not lulling us to sleep—but giving us life, and making sure we stay WOKE!” —Tony Medina, author of Broke Baroque and An Onion of Wars

“Sheree R. Thomas is a hoodoo conjure women. Sleeping Under the Tree of Life is a book of story and poem incantations. Thomas calls on the ancestors, the spirits, and our natural Mississippi mud/ blood history to talk to the future. She tasks, thrills, and twists our minds. Her word magic feels so good in my mouth, I have to jump up and speak her blues, jazz, and warrior woman sass out loud! Sleeping Under the Tree of Life is a book to read again and again and again!” —Andrea Hairston, author of Redwood and Wildfire and Will Do Magic for Small Change

“Sheree Renée Thomas gives us a whirlpool of poem and story, a ‘wild and strangeful breed’ of cosmology that maps each star from Machu Pichu to Congo Square, from Legba to Medusa. Here in these pages is a ringshout around a tree of brown woman hands and riverbent fantasy, all quilted up in ‘indigo/and black silt/ twisting the thick strands/ as if starting a slow fire.’ The baptism awaits, the water is living, and we all rise with the tide of these epistles from such a wondrous, ancient, future-bound poet.” —Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio and Leadbelly

“Sleeping Under the Tree of Life is a collection of tales and poetry reflecting the mythical origins of life inside the dream of ‘trees, rivers, stars, blood.’ Through Thomas’ words every day birth, desire, death becomes a beautiful, dream-like dance full of magic, light and dark. We are shown that things are more than they seem and under the most common skin lies infinite power.” —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend

“This collection of vivid, intense and artful speculative poetry and short fiction is a journey through beautiful, treacherous landscapes simultaneously ancient, futuristic and of-the-moment, inhabited by deities, demiurges, and drylongso conjurefolk. These guides, guardians and shape-shifting survivors illuminate Thomas’ meditations on the joys and ravages of history and the resilience of love. Sleep beneath this Tree, dream these dreams, and arise changed."—Ama Patterson


Click for more detail about Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

by Kiini Ibura Salaam
Aqueduct Press (May 01, 2012)
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Winner of the 2012 James Tiptree Jr. Award, Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ’’Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.’’ In naming Ancient, Ancient one of the Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Books of 2012, Jeff VanderMeer writes, "Magic and sexuality permeate these stories that seek the emotional core of their characters. Interesting settings and Salaam’s exuberant but controlled prose help to anchor narratives that are continually question, pushing for something beyond the usual." Indeed, Ms. Salaam’s stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ’’Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter…. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini’s body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.’’
  ’’Kiini Ibura Salaam’s collection of short fiction, Ancient, Ancient, demonstrates that she deserves to be considered one of today’s most promising contemporary genre writers. With writing that challenges assumptions on gender, the nature of fantasy, the uses of myth and much more, she offers the readers stories that they will not soon forget. A marvelous introduction to a marvelous writer.’’—Jack Womack, author of Random Acts of Senseless Violence

’’’Kiini Ibura Salaam is a natural-born storyteller and a gorgeous writer who chooses her characters and words with the care and skill of a poet. Her stories are transformative, wise and vivid with the quality of fantasy and fable. I loved reading this!’’—Sheree Renee Thomas, author of Shotgun Lullabies: Stories and Poems and editor of the award-winning Dark Matter anthologies

This collection of moving stories interleaves many themes, perhaps the most effective for me being the alienation of the foreigner….Throughout the language is stunning, like music become words. I found my own mind dazzled and my imagination stretched to keep up with the flow of images.— Martha Hubbard , The Future Fire

Book Review

Click for more detail about Redwood And Wildfire by Andrea Hairston Redwood And Wildfire

by Andrea Hairston
Aqueduct Press (Feb 28, 2011)
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Winner of the 2011 James Tiptree Jr. Award, Redwood and Wildfire is a novel of what might have been. At the turn of the 20th century, minstrel shows transform into vaudeville, which slides into moving pictures. Hunkering together in dark theatres, diverse audiences marvel at flickering images. This ’’dreaming in public’’ becomes common culture and part of what transforms immigrants and ’’native’’ born into Americans. Redwood, an African American woman, and Aidan, a Seminole Irish man, journey from Georgia to Chicago, from haunted swampland to a ’’city of the future.’’ Gifted performers and hoodoo conjurors, they struggle to call up the wondrous world they imagine, not just on stage and screen, but on city streets, in front parlours, in wounded hearts. The power of hoodoo is the power of the community that believes in its capacities to heal and determine the course of today and tomorrow. Living in a system stacked against them, Redwood and Aidan s power and talent are torment and joy. Their search for a place to be who they want to be is an exhilarating, painful, magical adventure. Blues singers, filmmakers, haints, healers. ’’Redwood and Wildfire is richly epic, moving from Georgia swamps to Chicago theaters, giving us conjure women and actors and haints and businessmen, acts of horrific cruelty and of wild courage. But it is also an intimate love story of two people groping toward each other when no one else in the entire world thinks they should be together. Told in a fresh voice, Redwood and Aidan’s story will move you in ways you don’t expect, even as it offers glimpses of that magical world lying behind this one.’’— Nancy Kress, author of Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Probability Moon ’’Andrea Hairston’s writing has the capacity to take you places you had no idea you even wanted to go until she drops you down where you least expected and invites you to make yourself at home. Redwood and Wildfire carries us along on an amazing journey of struggle and spirit, love and loss, its wisdom ultimately coming from Hairston’s extraordinary ability to illuminate the mysterious power that only comes with surrender to the things we know, but can’t always see. For her long time admirers, this is the book we’ve been waiting for her to write. For those just discovering her work, welcome to a brand new world. Andrea Hairston has been waiting for you.’’ —Pearl Cleage, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day and Baby Brother’s Blues ’’Redwood and Wildfire moved me, excited me, involved me deeply in the lives of people I wanted so actively to follow and learn more about. Andrea Hairston’s lush prose perfectly suits the story she tells here of dreamers who travel far on the strength of their dreams: across continents, back and forth through time, and at one point literally out of this world. Drawing on inheritances rooted in lands of myth, Aidan and Sequoia gift one another with a love as generous as freedom as they struggle alongside other, equally interesting characters to manifest the deep abundance that is rightfully theirs. This book is an affirmation of the power of joy to transform the world, and reading it will make you sing like a bird while wishing for wings with which to fly.’’ —Nisi Shawl, author of Filter House


Click for more detail about Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems by Sheree Renee Thomas Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems

by Sheree Renee Thomas
Aqueduct Press (Jan 31, 2011)
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In this first collection of the stories and poetry of Sheree Renée Thomas, memory is the only force strong enough to counter the terrors of a scarred and forgetful world. Thomas’s characters are people scraping by in slave quarters and institutional margins, people in search of freedom and transformation who come face to face with apocalyptic powers. Thrown back on their wits and their lore, they turn to unexpected sources to make sense of things: to girl-children, old women, old skills, old magic, and forgotten ties of kinship with the natural world. Rooted in the Mississippi Delta, Thomas’s language is the stuff of life and the struggle to call things by their true names. It reaches through time in search of the transformation that will allow us to survive diaspora with memory and soul intact. These shotgun lullabies puncture the walls between us and our past, the people and their birthright.



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