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Book Title

Heed the Hollow

Author 1
Malcolm Tariq
Poem Excerpt
Only the tree will outlive it,
can tell the story as no one does,
will utter passion and mean
possession, will say fire
and mean desire. I want
to unlearn this body, forgive
the spectacle it is. Gallowed
be thy name. I will take it
into antiquity. He’s never had
a black man. I’ve never had myself.
I want to imagine a world in which
I am present.
—from “Nocturne: Without Sanctuary”
Heed the Hollow introduces the work of Malcolm Tariq, whose poems explore the concept of “the bottom” across blackness, sexuality, and the American South. These lyrics of queer desire meet the voices of enslaved ancestors to reckon with a lineage of trauma that manifests as silence, pain, and haunting memories, but also as want and love. In bops, lyrics, and erasures, Heed the Hollow tells of a heritage anchored to the landscape of the coastal South, to seawalls shaped by forced labor, and to the people “marked into the bottom / of history where then now / we find no shadow of life.” From that shadow, the voices in these poems make their own brightness, reclaiming their histories from a language that evolved to exclude them. With an introduction by Chris Abani, Heed the Hollow exults in the spiritual and the physical, in its blackness and eroticism, and in the beauty of touch and music.

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The stirring debut from the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, selected and intoduced by Chris Abani

About the Author

Malcolm  Tariq
Credit: Karisma Price
Malcolm Tariq is from Savannah, Georgia, and is the author of Heed the Hollow, winner of the Cave Canem prize, and Extended Play, winner of the 2017 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Contest. A graduate of Emory University, Tariq has a PhD in English from the University of Michigan. He lives in New York.
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  • “This collection presents a brave voice in poetry, unapologetically honest and alarmingly astute.”—Booklist
  • “Tariq’s daring debut explores the intersection of black, queer, and Southern identity. . . . Readers of Robin Coste Lewis will appreciate Tariq’s archival erasures, while Natasha Trethewey fans will appreciate a journey to South Carolina’s ‘Ellis Island of Slavery.’ . . . Reckoning with historical atrocities and making use of a variety of formal gestures, Tariq triumphs in creating his distinctive brand of blues.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “Heed the Hollow interrogates the linguistics of being, the verb and noun of what it means to be human, as well as to be history, to be present and sexualized and loved, to be full and hollow. Tariq is asking, gorgeously, a question, and allows anyone to answer.”Bookpage, starred review
  • “With deeply moving metaphors and sharp imagery with backdrops of the American South, Tariq plants an emotional seed that dares us to examine our history while remaining conscious of our present path.”—The Advocate
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