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the new black
Evie Shockley

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2011 • 128 pp. 2 illus. 7 x 9 1/2"
Poetry / African-American Studies

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7287-5
$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7140-3

$12.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7288-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Shockley’s work incorporates elements of myth without being patently ‘mythical’ and is personal without being self-indulgent, sentimental without being saccharine. … Highly recommended to readers of cultural studies as well as poetry and for library collections of all types and sizes.”—Chris Pusateri, Library Journal

A profound and uplifting meditation on the meanings of race and belonging in America

Smart, grounded, and lyrical, Evie Shockley’s the new black integrates powerful ideas about “blackness,” past and present, through the medium of beautifully crafted verse. the new black sees our racial past inevitably shaping our contemporary moment, but struggles to remember and reckon with the impact of generational shifts: what seemed impossible to people not many years ago—for example, the election of an African American president—will have always been a part of the world of children born in the new millennium. All of the poems here, whether sonnet, mesostic, or deconstructed blues, exhibit a formal flair. They speak to the changes we have experienced as a society in the last few decades—changes that often challenge our past strategies for resisting racism and, for African Americans, ways of relating to one another. The poems embrace a formal ambiguity that echoes the uncertainty these shifts produce, while reveling in language play that enables readers to “laugh to keep from crying.” They move through nostalgia, even as they insist on being alive to the present and point longingly towards possible futures. Check for the online reader’s companion at http://

Check for the online reader’s companion at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

the new black doesn’t need the likes of me to explain or sell it: it shouts, with glee and a kind of genius, its own achievement.”—Ray MacDaniel, The Constant Critic

“In urgent, energized poetry that escapes across the page, Shockley manages grand, in-your-face emotion without ostentation, exploring the African American experience finally to arrive at an understanding of ‘the new black’—both personal and poetic.”Library Journal, Best Poetry, 2011

“Evie Shockley is a commanding young poet who asks us to feel, asks us to think, and she ends her book at the peak of its tension, ‘new rules’, new black, new game.”—Richard Silberg, Poetry Flash

“Shockley interrogates injustices towards black people and women in order to negotiate a path towards triumph and liberation.”Zoe Brigley, Poetry Salzburg Review

“She uses every form possible to establish the new woman: word games, persona poems, mesostics, concrete poetry, haikus, epistolary forms, prose poems, language poetry, typography. In all, she has something powerful to say. The anger and love furled into these poems have their roots in great historical figures and poets. Respect is paid to Shockley’s traditions, in nontraditional ways … This book is an homage to cultural memory in the newest way possible.”Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Book Review

“For readers looking for a challenging and masterful exploration of what we talk about when we talk about race, place, and womanhood, the new black is a wonderful and challenging read.”—Evie Shockley, Hollins Critic

“Both spare and lyrical, Shockley’s poems often begin with an active interrogation of received poetic forms and practices, such as capitalization. But her work is also interested in subjectivity, the lyric tradition, and notions of place.”Zinzi Clemmons, Literary Hub from Poetry Foundation

“What Evie Shockley considers the new black defines itself with each poem in her daring collection. The new black, be it ideology or individual, is not afraid to question the validity of the concept of post-blackness or challenge our understanding of key figures in American history. … One of the joys of the new black is Shockley’s commanding embrace of classic form in modern context.”Mitchell L.H. Douglas, Los Angeles Review

“Shockley’s broad cultural resource, combined with her poetry’s relaxed intentionality, helps give context to, position and display pieces in the vast puzzle of race and politics in America.”Stephen Lawrence, The Poetry Project Newsletter

“Evie Shockley’s the new black is our contemporary passage through a mosaic of historical and literary constructions. This stunning collection remembers all that has moved through the black body to bring us into the 21st century; and not since Jean Toomer’s Cane has the black female body in particular been portrayed with such compassion and love. This formally inventive work makes signifyin' its casting call, as Shockley becomes the master “composer of genealogies.”Claudia Rankine, author of Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

“In these remarkable new poems Evie Shockley seems to step to us wearing an alluring silk gown and steel-toe guerilla boots! She possesses that rare combination of grace and subversiveness. As a poem like ‘x marks the spot’ demonstrates, she elegantly wrestles with/against staid notions of culture, identity and influence. Her synthesis of poetic styles (the sonnet, the epistle, the tarot, the diagram) produces a poetry that is recognizable and strange, engaging and revolutionary. the new black is a book of stunning urgency and invention.”Terrance Hayes, author of Lighthead

From the Book:

dear opaque policy,

transparency is the new this
is for your own good
. covering
your ears is a sound defense.
the status quo never looked
so good. goods. and servers.
ye gods! the national security
blanket is a crazy quilt. award
awash aweigh awol. a globe
warming up to consumption.
he’s got the whole world in
his lands. friends. ends. trust
me. must we? survey says:
property. and life, and liberty,
but only if you’re not it. tag.

— from “the farewell letters”


BCALA Literary Award - Honorable Mention (2012) Commendation
Winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (2012)

EVIE SHOCKLEY is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of a half-red sea, the chapbook The Gorgon Goddess, and Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry.

Click here for author's website.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:31:13 -0500