Refuse : Poems
Booklist Reviews 2018 September #1
*Starred Review* In this stunning breakout collection, Randall writes with brilliance and verve about what it means to be black, biracial, and queer, exploding delineations between the personal and political. The son of an African American father and a Dominican mother, Randall obsesses over lineage and legacy, both biological ties between people and the lives of exceptional individuals. In Portrait of My Father as Sisyphus, the speaker depicts a man who must care for his ailing mother and who, like Sisyphus, will bear this difficult burden until one of them perishes. Elsewhere, Randall depicts the only black boy in a cold Nebraska classroom who is subjected to the savage lick of a whip as a means of explaining an entire history. A native Chicagoan, Randall weaves President Obama throughout the book, drawing on shared experiences of biracial black men, but closes the series at a vital crossroads with a Langston Hughes homage: Obama Speaks of Rivers but We Have Always Been on Different Shores. Throughout, Randall is a master of simple, unexpectedly devastating lyrics: sometimes being Biracial / is to have two half-filled glasses / & die of thirst anyway. In its raw ferocity and scintillating intelligence, Randall's debut stands with those of the best of new voices, including Saeed Jones, Danez Smith, and Rickey Laurentiis. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.