Trouble the Water


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Author: Austin, Derrick
Foreword by: Szybist, Mary
Publication Date: 04/12/2016
Publisher: BOA Editions
Binding: Paperback
Media: Book


Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize
Finalist for the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award
Finalist for the 2017 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
Finalist for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry
Finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award

Rich in religious and artistic imagery, Trouble the Water is an intriguing exploration of race, sexuality, and identity, particularly where self-hood is in constant flux. These intimate, sensual poems interweave pop culture and history–moving from the Bible through several artistic eras–to interrogate what it means to be, as Austin says, fully human as a “queer, black body” in 21st century America.

“‘Expect poison of the standing water, ‘ Blake warned, highlighting the dangers of imaginative stagnation. I’m now tempted to believe that Blake himself has sent us Derrick Austin and his remarkable collection, Trouble the Water. At once gospel and troubadour song, these deeply spiritual and expansively erotic poems are lucid, unflinching, urgent. This is an extraordinary debut.” —Mary Szybist, winner of the National Book Award