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Book Title

Dark Days

Fugitive Essays
Author 1
Roger Reeves
In his debut work of nonfiction, award-winning poet Roger Reeves finds new meaning in silence, protest, fugitivity, freedom, and ecstasy. Braiding memoir, theory, and criticism, Reeves juxtaposes the images of an opera singer breaking the state-mandated silence curfew by singing out into the streets of Santiago, Chile, and a father teaching his daughter to laugh out loud at the planes dropping bombs on them in Aleppo, Syria. He describes the history of the hush harbor—places where enslaved people could steal away to find silence and court ecstasy, to the side of their impossible conditions. In other essays, Reeves highlights a chapter in Toni Morrison’s Beloved to locate common purpose between Black and Indigenous peoples; he visits the realities of enslaved people on McLeod Plantation, where some of the descendants of those formerly enslaved lived into the 1990s; and he explores his own family history, his learning to read closely through the Pentecostal church tradition, and his passing on of reading as a pleasure, freedom, and solace to his daughter, who is frightened the police will gun them down.
Together, these groundbreaking essays build a profound vision for how to see and experience the world in our present moment, and how to strive toward an alternative existence in intentional community underground. “The peace we fight and search for,” Reeves writes, “begins and ends with being still.”

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A crucial book that calls for community, solidarity, and joy, even in—especially in—these dark days

About the Author

Roger  Reeves
Credit: Ana Schwartz
Roger Reeves is the author of two poetry collections, King Me and Best Barbarian. His essays have appeared in Granta, the Yale Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.
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  • “Reeves rejects fundamentally unjust political institutions in favor of small-scale practices that cultivate community in the absence of power. . . . He calls for art that locates liberation in quotidian moments. Spaces like the barbershop, the nightclub, the church and the ‘hush harbor’—secretive antebellum religious meetings that offered respite from slavery—become sites where we can hone our imaginations and carve out freedom amid oppression.”—Ismail Muhammad, The New York Times Book Review
  • “Reeves’s trademark lyricism shines throughout, proving that he’s just as affecting in prose as in verse. This impresses.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “With this text, [Reeves] inclines toward his ideal of the ecstatic, defiantly daring to build the sort of life—intellectual and free—so easily denied to Black Americans. A cerebral, ruminative essay collection brimming with insight and vision.”Kirkus Reviews

  • “This is a gift of a book written by a poet with searing intelligence. . . . Dark Days builds with essays that are astonishing in their revelations as well as their forms. . . . Reeves contemplates the silence, the introspection necessary for eloquent responses to our increasingly frightening world.”—Denise Duhamel, Best American Poetry blog
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