Poetry by Justin Phillip Reed
April 7, 2020 • 6 x 9 • 104 pages • 978-1-56689-576-7
The Malevolent Volume explores the myths and transformations of Black being, on a continuum between the monstrous and the sublime.
Subverting celebrated classics of poetry and mythology and examining horrors from contemporary film and cultural fact, National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed engages darkness as an aesthetic to conjure the revenant animus that lurks beneath the exploited civilities of marginalized people. In these poems, Reed finds agency in the other-than-human identities assigned to those assaulted by savageries of the state. In doing so, he summons a retaliatory, counterviolent Black spirit to revolt and to inhabit the revolting.
About the Author
Justin Phillip Reed is an American poet and essayist. He is the author of Indecency (Coffee House Press), winner of the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry and Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and a finalist for the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is the 2019-2021 Fellow in Creative Writing at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. His work appears in African American Review, Denver Quarterly, Guernica, the New Republic, Obsidian, and elsewhere. He earned his BA in creative writing at Tusculum College and his MFA in poetry at Washington University in St. Louis. He has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Conversation Literary Festival, and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. He was born and raised in South Carolina.
Praise for The Malevolent Volume
“I’d quote a few of the breathtaking detonations across this incredible collection if there weren’t so many. On every page the intimacies of mind and body, myth and memory are simultaneously sung and said. It’s not quite enough to salute the literary ties and tangles, the range and urgency of subjects, the layered lyric linguistics. The Malevolent Volume is roundly astounding. Reed is making a new and wholly irreducible line through the waters of American poetry.” —Terrance Hayes
“‘Its trumpets, they will ramify.’ Deliberate in its every movement, this collection is a most satisfying force of will. Justin Phillip Reed’s follow-up, The Malevolent Volume, is a masterpiece to which I will ‘be always arriving.’ If our work as poets is to transform what most would call violence and what beasts accept as natural, this is a blueprint for how to do so ethically and masterfully. Here, in word, is a guttural and gutting music. Every poem becomes a new and necessary etymology of ‘malevolent.’ The beast in me bows to the beast in you, Justin. This is a restorative Black eco-poetics; where afropessimism meets afrofuturism.” —Marwa Helal
“Horror is a genre of encounters not with the unknown, but with what is most familiar—and therefore most unshakeable. If it is a monstrous language that Justin Phillip Reed employs in The Malevolent Volume, it’s a monster you already know well. Reed is a master of many things—meter, momentum, lexical richness, the musculature of syntax, how to haunt an insistently violent canon—but perhaps chief among them is the dark magic of harnessing language’s wilds into something that blooms into a real shout inside you. You must understand: it’s not strangeness you’re seeing here. It is audacity—the audacity of the queer, Black body, the brilliant body, which won’t, and won’t, and won’t die.” —Franny Choi
Praise for Justin Phillip Reed
Recipient of a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Poetry
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry
Finalist for the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award
BCALA 2019 Honor Best Poetry Award winner
Library Journal, “Best Books 2018”
“Boldly and carefully executed and perfectly ragged. In these poems, Justin Phillip Reed experiments with language to explore inequity and injustice and to critique and lament the culture of white supremacy and the dominant social order.” —National Book Foundation
“Reed’s visceral and teasingly cerebral debut probes black identity, sexuality, and violence and is inseparably personal and political. He displays a searing sense of injustice about dehumanizing systems, and his speakers evoke the quotidian with formidable eloquence . . .” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[Reed’s] poems take up the body in desire and violence, and they do so by thrusting the reader into a stark visceral encounter with their material.” —The New York Times
“A poignant, searing book.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Rich with musical echoes and sonic ironies.” —Vulture
“Raw, nervy, reverberant, densely packed language whose import simply can’t be reduced to easy explanation. . . . One-of-a-kind brilliant.” —Library Journal