James Booker Speaks to Ringo Starr about His Bodyguard Taking His Eye

Karisma Price

You made a strangerperform your owntantrum. Don't beembarrassed. I'mstill here. Where I am from,a man is judged if he cannotfinish what he started, sofinish me. Show mehow you fight and I'llshow you how to possessChopin and turn himinto something darkerthan his own shadow.Little Lazarus, why wasn't it youwho yanked the songout of me? I blessedthe bloody knucklewith the percussionyou could not make.The fist that was notyours formed into a furioustumor, a flat flounderforcing its living againstthe brown swampof my face. You made sureI was opened properly. If youwere a real man, you would'velet me feed your hungerin an easier way, would'velet me teach you Fats Dominowith one handheld over my gapingleft socket while the other handdanced among the ivories.Instructor of the obedient,I see you. We both callothers to move for us,both own heavyhands that draw bloodfrom the objectswe wish to be.

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Karisma Price is the author of the poetry collection I’m Always so Serious (Sarabande Books, 2023). Her work has appeared in Poetry, Four Way Review, Wildness, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and New York University, was a finalist for the 2019 Manchester Poetry Prize, and awarded The 2020 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from The Poetry Foundation. She is from New Orleans, LA, and holds an MFA in poetry from New York University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Tulane University.

"This formally innovative collection rewards readers with its memorable and incisive reflections."
Publishers Weekly

"Karisma Price’s debut, I’m Always so Serious, is an address to and through various beloveds."
—Harriet Books through Poetry Foundation

“Karisma Price speaks with a wink, a sigh, a knitted brow when she says she’s always so serious. She speaks as someone raised on a gumbo of James Baldwin and James Booker, Buckjumping and Brooklyn. She speaks as your phone’s autocorrect, your remixed song lyrics, your friendly neighborhood fortune teller. Price speaks directly to and for you while speaking distinctly for herself. These are the masterful portraits, mercurial testimonies, and verbal inventions of our imminent poet of the new school/south, the next generation. I’m Always so Serious is brilliant.”
—Terrance Hayes, winner of the National Book Award for Lighthead

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