How to Be Better by Being Worse (New Poets of America #45)
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Selected by Richard Blanco as winner of the 2019 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, Justin Jannise turns the self-help manual on its head in How to be Better by Being Worse.
These poems flout, subvert, question, and ignore the rules with exploratory energy. Queer experiences are celebrated--from crushing on long-dead, sad-eyed poets to drag divas dancing at Halloween parties--gender constructs are questioned, and familial transgressions are laid bare for the world.
Delightfully modulating between flippant, sincere, and back again, How to Be Better by Being Worse freely indulges in harmless wickedness as its speaker grows in self-awareness, slowly learning to let go of inherited shame while continuing to seek self-forgiveness for the harms he has caused the outside world.
BOA Editions, 9781950774234, 88pp.
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
About the Author
Justin Jannise grew up in rural southeast Texas. As a first-generation college student, he attended Yale University, where he won the 2009 Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize for Poetry. He worked as a freelance pop culture writer in New York City before moving to Iowa to attend the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The University of Iowa awarded him a Teaching-Writing Fellowship in 2013 and named him the Provost's Visiting Writer in Poetry in 2014. Now finishing his Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston, Justin served a two-year term as Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast. He frequently teaches community writing workshops at Inprint, Grackle & Grackle, and Writespace. As part of Writers in the Schools, he has led classrooms at Field Elementary School, the High School for Law and Justice, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital. He is the recipient of both the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize and the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry. In 2019, his poems appeared in both Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and Copper Nickel nominated his poem "Leather Jacket" for a Pushcart Prize. His writing has also been published by Hobart, Electric Lit, Lana Turner, Yale Review, New Ohio Review, and Split Lip Magazine.