U.S.A. / 2014
Prime: Poetry & Conversation is a collection of poems by five queer black poets: Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Saeed Jones, Rickey Laurentiis, Phillip B. Williams and L. Lamar Wilson. The 96-page book dedicates a small section to each poet, allowing readers to immerse themselves in their similar, yet very distinct, modes of writing and thought. These poets blend very well together because they each grapple with themselves and with the world in a different way. Each set of poems reflects upon the conundrum of being queer, male and black. Sibling Rivalry Press, an independent publishing house based in Arkansas, did a fine job to scout and compile a beautifully vibrant group of up-and-coming poets for this collection. The stunning introduction by the esteemed Jericho Brown lets us know that these are the poets that we should look out for in the future. Although Prime was published in 2014 and is thus by no means a totally “new release,” this collection is still relevant as we go into 2017 because we still have not answered the many poignant questions it poses about queerness and blackness. These poems invite ongoing dialogue. For this reason, I particularly enjoy its subtitle, “Poetry and Conversation.” While the second half of the book is literally devoted to transcripts of dialogue between the poets, the poems themselves are launching points for important conversations we need to have with others and with ourselves.