SWING AT YOUR OWN RISK structurally designed to swing from one subject to the next, from one lyric utterance to the next, concerns itself with unpacking myths of gender, race, sexuality and violence (specifically myths of the scary black man in the U.S. and the scary black woman in the U.S.). Through formal and structural experimentation, the poems attempt to look at the varying issues in the U.S. that can rob humans of opportunities to be radically humane. BUY BOOK

Sáma is acutely aware of the irony that “many of us whose ancestors helped build the institutions that kept us out are now financially supporting those same institutions.” But she wants “to transform these realities into art & into questions that are not heavy-handed … or rhetoric.” Despite the poet’s resentment of those who have access to ‘a safe world I can only imagine’, and despite the sound of necks and bones breaking that bubbles as a soundscape under her work, Sáma seems fundamentally optimistic. Rather than the “expectation of cardinals/fiery in the wintered sky”, she says, “Give me the rabid face/of the pigeon… always pointing toward the next hustle.” BUY BOOK


Lydia Melvin’s (Metta Sáma) debut poetry collection, SOUTH OF HERE, was a finalist in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, establishes a new voice that is at once experimental, erotic, concerned with social justice, and ponderous of stable identities. Melvin’s poems explore familial relationships, friendships, intimacy and looks, unwaveringly, at the death of a childhood friend, domestic rape, and identifying as gender transient and sexually queer. Demonstrating a finesse with lineation, Melvin writes: “I have misplaced my gender. . .If I admit my gender/is in the garbage, what have I confessed?” These poems cultivate rawness, wildness, exploration. BUY BOOK

THE YEAR WE TURNED DRAGON (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs 2016) is the first third of a larger book that follows a group who travel with “Leader” across the globe in order to build a new world, one that is the other side of human, that is dragon. Their leader consumes the detritus of humans—skin, hair, nails, blood, urine, feces—to aid this transformation and convinces the followers that Dragon is the true nature of the self. The followers’ individual identities are erased; stripped of their names & families, the followers collectively narrate their experiences following the leader who seemed, in the beginning, like a compassionate messiah and later, a brutal prophet. the year we turned dragon asks the questions: what are the dangers of blind faith, of following one person’s vision, of living a life without doubt. BUY BOOK

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