Coffee House Press, 2018
Ofttimes, when I open a book of poems, I am asking the poet a simple question: How are you reimagining the human experience? Justin Phillip Reed answers this question. In his debut, Indecency, winner of the 2018 National Book Award, Reed forces us to wrestle with a body provoked, pained, and wandering. He invites us into a complex world, and this world, illustrated by inventive forms and driven by language, is one that has been regurgitated, ignored, and placed back on the shelf time and time again. But, Reed is unafraid. Not only are these poems threaded with musculature, but are brutally honest as they interrogate the different masks of violence and frailty. And in their honesty, we are asked, “for what did you last destroy?” And in our search, we are left restlessly human. Each poem is a new mirror, a new street, a new room, a new knife. Reed is precise and haunting, a voice chipping away at everything we thought we once knew; he won’t let us breathe.