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Department of English

University of Mississippi



by Derrick Harriell

Long before Jackie Robinson bravely entered Major League hatred, African Americans tied cultural pride, anxiety and politick to angry fists buffered with cotton.  Derrick Harriell has mined the human history of lives perpetually in fight and woven a gutbucket stench of ghetto wail and back alley holler survival.  The work of these four rounds, the transparent employment of voice and source, working the head, body, groin and knees, is a flurry of converging dialogues: real and cleverly imagined, in conversation with self, God, Uncle Sam, other Black pugilists and the women who adorn these boxers as trinket and stain.  Jack Johnson, from Leavenworth, writes to Joe Louis We take turns dying.  Myth, truth, lies and the substance of Black testosterone in viscous, historically-textured sonics, Ropes confirms Derrick Harriell is among the finest young poets in the country.

– Quraysh Ali Lansana, author of mystic turf and Our Difficult Sunlight: a guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community