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Honeyfish

Honeyfish confronts life and death. The collection begins and ends with poems that memorialise and mourn the deaths of African Americans who have died at police hands, though to call them poems of protest would simplify their exploration of what life means in relation to death. It is a collection whose architecture works to make each poem, beautiful in their singular grace, add up to much more than the sum of their individual parts. Available to pre-order. Books will be posted in July 2019.

£9.99

Author(s)
Lauren K. Alleyne
ISBN
9781845234416
Pages
64
Price
£9.99
Classification
Poetry
Setting
Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America
Date published
4 Jul 2019

Honeyfish confronts life and death. The collection begins and ends with poems that memorialise and mourn the deaths of African Americans who have died at police hands, though to call them poems of protest would simplify their exploration of what life means in relation to death. It is a collection whose architecture works to make each poem, beautiful in their singular grace, add up to much more than the sum of their individual parts. Thus, the poems that explore the complexities of a life that involves the dislocations of migration, the pain of racism and misogyny and the sometimes fraught complications of love and family life speak all the more strongly of the value of a determined engagement with life because of their relationship to the poems that address the suddenness of death. The joyful memory of the Couva swimming pool of childhood, “filled with us/ —black children shrieking/ our joy in a haze of sun; our lifeguard,/ Rodney, his skin flawless/and gleaming—black as fresh oil” takes on both an additional vibrancy and a darkening of innocence in the contrasts it makes. This is also a poetry of moving plainness, where rightness of word choice and elegance of rhythm makes one notice only belatedly how rarely the poems engage with metaphor or simile. As in “Elegy for Tamir”, the power comes from directness, where she tells the slain child, “your only synonym/ is beloved, blessed, child of the universe…” 

There is wisdom in Lauren Alleyne’s poems, but always of a wisely provisional kind. As she writes: “I wanted wisdom,/ but was given a journey”. It is no surprise that Honeyfish was awarded the 2018 Green Rose Prize awarded by New Issues Press at Western Michigan University.

Praise for this collection

"In poems spun from seemingly effortless language, Lauren K. Alleyne’s piercing voice emerges. Honeyfish sounds a litany of grief for home, country, and lives in danger of being erased from personal and collective memory. Naming the victims of racism and police brutality—Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland…—Alleyne places their stories alongside her own, as a black woman and immigrant to the US. The task of remembering the poet shoulders is replete in the forms the poems often take: the elegy and ars poetica. Alleyne bears witness to the ‘world ruthless with beauty,’ and her poems are a singular act of resistance and power. “Who will sing you?” the poet asks, at one point—which is another way to ask, who will see and honour those who are gone? The answer is found in these compassionate, impassioned, and clear-eyed poems: This poet. This book." --Shara McCullum

"Honeyfish is a remarkable, timely and timeless collection. Awake and unflinching, it bears witness to our difficult current moment—Tamir Rice, Charlottesville, the Charleston church shooting—and yet, in the face of horror and injustice, the poems celebrate the resilience and persistence of beauty and love, the languages we have lost, the grief unburied, the dream remembered. Lauren K. Alleyne comes into her own here as a voice we must reckon with, and her lyrical powers attest to a necessity we find only in our most valued poets." --David Mura

"These poems love. Prophesize. Return us to our beginnings. To days that we want to remember. Or forget. But don’t. Thus in our sister’s memory, we survive in the luxury of dying. The courage of loving. The re-imagining of our souls for another generation. Thank you, my dear sister for your words saluting our living, our lives." --Sonia Sanchez

"Even in the places we think of as most beautiful, the endless gong of the body being broken and defiled will find us. How can we see the sun and the ocean and the clear blue sky as anything other than a kind of cruel joke in the face of so much suffering? The extraordinary gift of Lauren K Alleyne’s, Honeyfish is that she shows the world in all its brutality and loss and somehow lets us mourn within the poems, which in turn allows us to begin some kind of healing. These are poems whose elegy is ongoing, whose elegy need never happened but for hatred. The waves go in and out and so many people keep being killed. And here is this extraordinary poet, making a heaven that is freedom, that is the dream of being welcomed and loved and tended to. This is a book for our times and for the day when these times are over and we can rejoice." -- Gabrielle Calvacoressi

"In exquisitely crafted poems of heart-accelerating candor and clarity, Lauren K. Alleyne says to all the black bodies slain by hatred and militarized fear, “Nothing I say will save you, but how can I say nothing?” Honeyfish is an elegy for all the countless lost, and a praise song for the many black lives that persist in their wish to give and receive love." -- Tracy K. Smith

"After Trayvon Martin, after Tamir Rice, after Sandra Bland, after Charlottesville and Charleston, afterafter: Lauren Alleyne’s poems answer the alarm. In Honeyfish, there is no end to elegy: the poet 'can’t stop counting/the bodies,' nor tallying 'our numbered days.' Moving between the United States and Greece, yanked between agony and anodyne, Alleyne gathers the evidence, then offers us the proof of herself and the graceful testimony of her poems."-- Christopher Bakken

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Lauren K. Alleyne

Lauren K. Alleyne hails from the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Her fiction, poetry and non-fiction have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including The Atlantic, Ms.Muse, Women's Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, The Crab Orchard Review, among many others. Her debut collection, Difficult Fruit, was published in February 2014 by Peepal Tree Press, and her second collection, Honeyfish, will be published in 2019.

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