Persea Books | Cover Art by Hieu Minh Nguyen
A title as understated as Dispatch deserves poems that challenge and change our idea of what poetry is and of what it can do. Cameron Awkward-Rich has written those poems—brilliantly original, what I imagine listeners must hear when they first encounter Billie Holiday: the voice understanding its subject, the subject having in it some horror, the voice seeming to lag behind as it finds unexpected and particularized language from the ‘blackened heart.’ This book’s urgency comes from its understanding that the world it cherishes is a world deteriorating. Yet it is a book of love poems no matter what!
Jericho Brown | Author of The Tradition
Awkward-Rich’s terse yet beguiling lyric articulates what it is to inhabit a particular body at a particular time in history, and, in the shadow of violence, to seek—or resist—openness.
Weighed down by the “brutal choreography” of violence against black, queer, and trans bodies, [Awkward-Rich] reestablishes buoyancy through will and formidable artistry...
Sympathetic Little Monster | 2016
Cameron Awkward-Rich’s debut is a stunning announcement of a voice that demands we move closer as much as it wishes we’d go away. The ornate emotional terrain of these poems is charted with the poet’s sometimes spare, sometimes wild, always skilled lyric. We are invited into a story Awkward-Rich suggest we “know all the words” to, but damn if it doesn’t sound better when this poet tells us. As much about stillness as it is about transition, Sympathetic Little Monster is at once analytical, magical, confession, dismissive, but ultimately, and simply, a collection breaking new ground in Trans, Queer, Black, and American Letters. For many, Awkward-Rich’s poems will burst open the mind, the heart, and even some doors, but when you get in there, just leave him alone.
Danez Smith | Author of Don't Call Us Dead
Sympathetic Little Monster is a haunted and haunting book where theory becomes story and story becomes music, girls turn into trees and swallow rose petals, and boys cry on the train. Cameron Awkward-Rich dares us to spend time with the ghosts who live inside transformation and gender transition. Lush and spare, his words are a feast of ideas and images.
Eli Clare | Author of Exile & Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation
Transit | 2015
Cameron Awkward-Rich’s wintry collection is full of broken surfaces. Fists surge in bodies, blades cleave skin, but most recurrent, a boy dives into black water. Think of an anti-Narcissus who longs to break the liquid mirror, both fractalizing and multiplying his image. Yet the poet winds tight Transit’s shifting reflections of puncture and fracture into poems of great tonal discipline and grimly mordant observation, pushing us deeper into memory into myth into girl into bird into mouth into sex onto cars onto trains into your hands, reader. Open the book and get opened by it.
Douglas Kearney | Author of Patter
Cam's work has always shown me more feeling, more thinking, better. Propelled through full and subtle proof lines, welling up somewhere between city father and deer sister, I become melancholy for this guide; like back in the day hitching atop handlebars, glimpse my young girl self in the stories we repeat and poetry we make with others to continue inside, why, "still the image, still the animal wailing through our silence.
Douglas A. Martin | Author of Once You Go Back