Citizen – Claudia Rankine
This book challenged my (lack of) understanding of how constructed racism operates in this society, and my (lack of) perception of my own privilege; I hope I am a better person because of it. I had the privilege of meeting Professor Rankine in Atlanta a few years ago, and when she signed my copy “in peace, with hope” I could not have been more moved.
The New Testament – Jericho Brown
I met Jericho Brown first in New York, but I have lived (as a stranger) in Georgia and in Louisiana, and this book for me is a song of that South that sings the blues, and puts faith in words, and has a way with both love and hate. As an atheist and an English major, I have a particular fondness for work that echoes and interrogates the language of faith, and Jericho is shameless in this regard.
Dancing in Odessa – Ilya Kaminsky
I heard Ilya Kaminsky read from this book once and have never forgotten the impact of his words, recited in the Russian style, and how the intense musicality of his delivery both pinned the audience in place and made every image glimmer. As a European abroad, and as a history minor, I love Kaminsky’s rootedness, and this was my first introduction to his unerring ear (ah, the irony).
Seam – Tarfia Faizullah
I am passionate about the poetry of protest, which I teach and also try to write. My country is deeply implicated in the history this book exposes, and although I walk in a woman’s body, balancing privilege against injustice, the ferocity and courage of this collection puts me to shame.
Don’t Call Us Dead – Danez Smith
I love work that can be both fiercely serious and fiercely irreverent; I also love work that refuses to bow to poetic convention while at the same time showing deep knowledge of every convention. Danez Smith does all of the things, and “dinosaurs in the hood,” especially in performance, is one of my favorite poems ever.
Jude Marr tutors, teaches, and writes poetry, as protest. Their chapbook, Breakfast for the Birds, came out in 2017 from Finishing Line Press, and their full-length manuscript, Bird on Barbed Wire, was a recent semi-finalist for Word Works’ Washington Prize. The hunt for a publisher continues. Jude’s poetry has otherwise cropped up in diverse publications: recent credits include AUIS: the literary journal of the American University of Iraq at Sulaimani; Eye Flash Poetry in the UK; and a forthcoming anthology from the Beautiful Cadaver Project in Pittsburgh titled Is it Hot in Here, or is it Just Me? In their spare time, Dr. Jude Marr is Director of the Reading-Writing Center and Digital Studio at Florida State University.