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Tug / Edition 1

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Overview

An inmate on Florida's death row writes piercingly of incarceration, racism and growing up.

Stephen Todd Booker, an inmate on Florida's death row, writes piercingly of incarceration. But he also sings, in a voice at once jagged and polished, of racism in Brooklyn and the South and of growing up black in 20th-century America, as he examines his life experience with metaphors that test the limits of language.

"Poems like nothing ever done before. In an act of spontaneous craft Booker distinguishes between idiom, vernacular, and diction, giving us a hard-wrought and complex language-a match for his ideas. Tug is a personal odyssey . . . It will make its mark in the world"-- Hayden Carruth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Comments Booker Waves & license in ``Requiem,'' ``How / Very sweet I would be seen as being / If willing to drop what takes guts to cite--'', and indeed, this is a challenging book. The writer is an inmate on Florida's death row, but his imagination is unconfined, ranging far both spatially and temporally. In ``Wisdom,'' he remembers as a kid in Brooklyn chasing and abusing a shoeless Jewish man: ``We kids hurried back to our own hometurf, / Back to the things we cared about and knew. / And you know what . . . ? It was good to be home. / It was good to have homes, shoes.'' In the chilling ``The Wrong Boy,'' Booker describes in the first person a man hunting down his great grandfather's lynchers: ``They had all worn that same questioning, / Quizzical sort of look near to where just / Before when I cured them, of everything.'' The poems chart both sides of violence, racism and despair. No wonder Booker imagines critics to be ``entrapped by the fury / Eking out of my pen,'' or that ``jongleurs of an oblique critique / Had me metaphored into something paused, / Although my aim was straight and true.'' His poetry is written without allegiances, speaking openly ``about things not to be said aloud'' and ``unawed by the thawed out realities / that shine in from afar.'' May
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819512154
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/1994
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 68
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.16 (d)

Meet the Author

STEPHEN TODD BOOKER’s poetry has appeared in Kenyon Review, Seneca Review, Yankee, Cream City Review, and other journals. He published the chapbook Waves & license in 1983.

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Table of Contents

Belief 1
The Centrifugal Force of Orez 2
Democracy 3
Wisdom 5
"M" 7
Lopping 8
Clarksville 10
Asil Anom 12
The Pied Piper of Murderloin Downs 13
Serendipity 14
Spartacus in Metus 15
I, When A Bumblebee Bat 18
Prospectus 19
Two Straws in the Wind of Mind 21
A Reflection: Of The Sky On Wheat and The River 23
The One No One Will Hear 24
Book of Gad 26
In the Interest of Anthropology 27
Escape to Kismet 29
Counting Backwards from Orez 31
Bhago's "Revised" Revenge 34
The Wrong Boy 36
Hopkinsville 41
Knowledge 42
Requiem 44
Breathing 48
Tug 50
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