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Book Title

The Maverick Room

Author 1
Thomas Sayers Ellis
A dream. A democracy. A savage liberty.
And yet another anthem and yet another heaven
And yet another party wants you.
Wants you wants you wants you.
—from "Groovallegiance"

In this powerhouse debut, Thomas Sayers Ellis in one poem prognosticates, "Pretty soon, the Age of the Talk Show / Will slip on a peel left in the avant-gutter." The result is The Maverick Room, the testing ground of determination and serendipity, where call and response becomes Steinian echo becomes hip-hop becomes a bootlegged recording hustled out a DC go-go club. With its defiance for any one tradition or voice, Ellis's debut collection becomes a powerful argument against monotony-just when "All their stanzas look alike," just when language fails in the face of catastrophe, just when, as Ellis confesses, "the twin terrors at the center of the word dollar / have made me and my craft liar-cowards."

The Maverick Room introduces a brave, intelligent, and original new voice to American poetry.

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Thomas Sayers Ellis's brash rhythms break over issues of race and national politics—and the poetry establishment itself—with an arresting new music

About the Author

Thomas Sayers Ellis
Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Thomas Sayers Ellis was born and raised in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Maverick Room, winner of the John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems. Ellis teaches in the Lesley University low-residency MFA program, and he works as a photographer for UFCW Local 342 in New York City. He currently divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Washington, D.C.
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  • “This book is hip, gutsy, and penetrating; in its pages, politics share the stage with the musical and linguistic pleasures and insights good poetry should provide.”—The Harvard Review
  • “[A] marvelous and accomplished volume…These are gregarious poems, always socially conscious, that never shortchange the intelligence of the reader as they dissect, intersect, embrace, and reject traditional tropes of African American literature.”—Ploughshares
  • “[A] fine new collection.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
  • “Poems shift effortlessly into formal registers that give further resonances to Ellis’s knowing switches of code and to this marvelous maverick book….”—Publishers Weekly
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