John Keene and Cynthia Gray

a solitary humandraws charcoalforest wordsagainst the inabilityof words againstall violence drawingtechniques of waitinggracefully for nothinghere a glass of dawnedged contours splayI feel admittingunexpected acts.

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Image of John Keene

John Keene is a writer, translator, professor, and artist who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2018. In 1989, Keene joined the Dark Room Writers Collective, and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem Writers Workshops. He is the author of Annotations, and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. Keene is the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Whiting Foundation Prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and the American Book Award. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.

Cover of Punks

Brooklyn, New York

"John Keene's Punks is utterly brilliant. The range, vision, depth and humanity he brings to the page are as galactic as Banneker’s astral wanderings, as crisp as the chordal cutting of a searching horn, as courageous and small as a nose wide open. Keene’s masterfully inventive inquiry of self and history is queered, Blackened, and joyously thick with multitudes of voice and valence. Amen to this exploration!"
—Tyehimba Jess

"It’s a brutal world out there. You need this attention to Keene’s poetic oeuvre where you’ll find a tenderness in both craft and content that will make your reading mind wet AF. Punks is a must read by any standards. It will make you want to fall in love with everything, including yourself."
—Dawn Lundy Martin

"Wow. Get Punks. Loads of ritual and performative lyric here, essential stuff. Histories, his brain ranges through the past impossibly, like an elegant thrift. I bow my head to Boston as it passes along the edges here of its demi-monde, then wrenching prose poems that are pretty much explorations of radiant metonymies of someone being black and queer like only John Keene is. This is one rich and thorough (I say pithy) fucking book."
—Eileen Myles

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