Sing This One Back To Me

Poetry by Bob Holman

April 23, 2013 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 164 pages • 978-1-56689-325-1

From West Africa to NYC, the oral tradition comes alive through collaborative storytelling of Holman and legendary griot Papa Susso.

An epilogue to Bob Holman’s travels to West Africa to discover the roots of spoken word, hip-hop, and the oral tradition, this collection is a celebration of language and its power to make us see. Building on his transcription of the Griot poems sung to him by West African legend Papa Susso, Holman uses verse as another lens for experiencing visual art (“Van Gogh’s Violin”) and as a vehicle for sharing his own intimate history. The landscape shifts, and grief makes itself evident, as do those very necessary, sneaky, ecstatic reminders of life’s continuing possibility for joy.

About the Author

Bob Holman is a poet, multimedia producer, poetry activist, and performance poetry professor who lives in New York City. Bob has published six books, most recently A Couple of Ways of Doing Something (Aperture, 2006), praise poems paired with photographs of artists by Chuck Close. He’s also put poetry on television, radio, and the Web, producing The United States of Poetry for PBS, appearing on MTV’s Spoken Word Unplugged and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and serving as poetry commentator on WNYC and NPR. Currently, he teaches Exploding Text: Poetry in Performance at Columbia University and is the founder and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club.


“The postmodern promoter who has done more to bring poetry to cafes and bars than anyone since Ferlinghetti.” New Yorker

“Bob’s the world’s showman, full of secrets. And a Zukofsky, recently felt.” —Eileen Myles

“Like his hero, Bob Holman sings of himself, in human, woven strokes—raw to boundaries of self, the narrator perpetuated by love in all its phases—a relationship to an external world that dares to be lived. From explorer to teacher, from performer to life poet . . . Bob has always encouraged using skin and ears to see, and to let love pour over intimate breath. Sing This One Back To Me shows that the color of intimacy is painted by location—let’s talk ear to ear, to understand what words do, in the moment, of word. This gift is in us, Bob says, to sing back at who we are. Do we dare express the love we feel? How daring to admit, that the world, is the poem. Were I to levitate beyond a now of not, I would shadow to Holman, this book to you—reading this—have become—a Holman. Birth the spoken, weave the broken, arrange in notes the song awoken, here…for you, out there.” —Edwin Torres

“These poems are colloquial, honest, and sure of themselves, which makes reading them a pleasure. . . . These are poems to share with friends and family until everyone is singing them back.” Hazel & Wren