The Tenant of Fire: Poems

The Tenant of Fire: Poems

by Ryan Black

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Winner of the 2019 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

The Tenant of Fire is about Queens, NY—its history, public and personal, real and imagined. Many of the people who populate this book—Irish Catholics, Italian-Americans—were once considered ethnic but now fall wholly under the banner of white. And from their anxieties a man like Donald Trump emerges. Born and raised in Queens, Trump is both the product and purveyor of a localized nativist politic.

The young white speaker of these poems works to record his parents’ and neighbors’, both white and of color, and his own attempts at navigating a shifting landscape. In poems on the homecoming of Vietnam vets, or the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or the firebombing of Malcolm X’s house, The Tenant of Fire explores how and why the plurality of a place like Queens, where now nearly two hundred languages are spoken, is viewed as a threat to national security.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822986911
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 85
File size: 851 KB

About the Author

Ryan Black is the author of Death of a Nativist, winner of the 2016 Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship, selected by Linda Gregerson. He has published previously in AGNI, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and has received fellowships from the Adirondack Center for Writing, The Millay Colony for the Arts, PLAYA, and the Queens Council on the Arts. He is the Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Queens College. 

Read an Excerpt

Home by the Sea
I can’t turn around and put up a flag and say, “I have no place to go.”
Chief Dennis Diggins
Bureau of Waste Disposal, DSNY
From bridge view, from snow-packed
rock. Seagirt to West End. The crude
signs nailed to garage doors, inked
on windshields, Looters will be crucified.
November: an Old World threat. A FEMA
truck stutters by on a busted axle. Drywall,
plumbing, dining set, bureau. Nine days
passed. At Fitzgerald Gym, two mothers
braid their children’s hair with Vaseline.
On state-issued cots below the free
throw line.

Table of Contents

Contents Not Once Hypocrite Shoe The Rise of the Colored Empires The Brigadier and the Golf Widow This Is Cinerama Home by the Sea Skip to My Lou Compensation At Broad Channel At Steepletop When the World's on Fire On the Cooling Board Victory Field Why Bother? Via Negativa The Lemon Ice King Stagger Lee Ommie Wise The Conjurer An Offering of Steam In the Pines Motherless Children 4-A The Tenant of Fire : a sequence 1. Hawk-Man 2. Goodbye, Piccadilly 3. The Curtain 4. Duke Ellington, Live at the Aquacade 5. Nothing Beats a Fair 6. A Gun to the Heart of the City Notes Acknowledgments

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