Imperial Liquor (Paperback)

Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)

By Amaud Johnson

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822966067, 70pp.

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

List Price: 17.00*
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Description

Imperial Liquor is a chronicle of melancholy, a reaction to the monotony of racism. These poems concern loneliness, fear, fatigue, rage, and love; they hold fatherhood held against the vulnerability of the black male body, aging, and urban decay. Part remembrance, part swan song for the Compton, California of the 1980s, Johnson examines the limitations of romance to heal broken relationships or rebuild a broken city. Slow Jams, red-lit rooms, cheap liquor, like seduction and betrayal—what’s more American? This book tracks echoes, rides the residue of music “after the love is gone.”
 
Smokey
 
the most dangerous men
in my neighborhood
only listened to love songs
 
to reach those notes
a musicologist told me
a man essentially cuts
 
his own throat. some nights
even now, i’ll hear a falsetto
and think i should run


About the Author

Amaud Jamaul Johnson is the author of Red Summer and Darktown Follies. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, he is winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Dorset Prize, and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, and Cave Canem. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Callaloo, The Rumpus, Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Compton, California, he is professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.


Praise For Imperial Liquor: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)

“With a shaken lyric voice, Imperial Liquor burns going down. Like cities. Like the years spent trying to get along. Like the terror, anger, pain, and shame swallowed that Amaud Jamaul Johnson has uncapped here, poured out here, for kin and kith who came and went, his children, mine, the ones we were and are, the ones who raised us, the adults an empire’s relentless thirst makes some of us too early. Johnson distills that here. A shattering achievement. It’s eerie and terrible, no less than Beauty’s dark miracle. It’s Johnson’s poetry. Sip this fire slowly.”—Douglas Kearney
 


“There are countless models of black masculinity in America. Some are enshrined in pop culture while others collect dust in the archives of ivory towers. With Imperial Liquor, his third poetry collection, Amaud Jamaul Johnson arranges them, the familiar and the forgotten, with intense lyricism and formal dexterity, and in figures that lay bare the culture at America’s core as well as the genius that produces it. Johnson is a crowd-pleaser, a hole-card-reader, a social critic and consummate chronicler of the Rap Age. He’s got your number, don’t sleep. You’ve got to peep this hustle, and delight.”—Gregory Pardlo