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Book Title


Author 1
Sjohnna McCray
Poem Excerpt
Because I can never say anything
            plainly. Because I always stutter
                        politely. Because there’s always the chatter
                        before the kiss.

            —from “In Need of Subtitles”
In this award-winning debut, Sjohnna McCray movingly recounts a life born out of wartime to a Korean mother and an American father serving during the Vietnam War. Their troubled histories, and McCray’s own, are told with lyric passion and the mythic undercurrents of discovering one’s own identity, one’s own desires. What emerges is a self- and family-portrait of grief and celebration, one that insists on our lives as anything, please, but singular. Rapture is an extraordinary first collection, with poems of rare grace and feeling.

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6 x 9
Winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Tracy K. Smith

About the Author

Sjohnna  McCray
Credit: Jon Waits
Sjohnna McCray is the author of Rapture, and has published poems in Black Warrior Review, Calalloo, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. He received his MFA at the University of Virginia and teaches at Savannah State University and lives in Georgia.

More by author


  • “McCray is at his best when he limns arousal, desire, the body in ecstasy, and the heart in the throes of devotion.”O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “McCray explores his father’s experiences in the Vietnam War, reeling them into personal reflections on his own identity.”—The Huffington Post
  • Rapture is the well-deserved winner of one of America’s most prestigious first-book prizes, the Walt Whitman Award. McCray’s two chief subjects in the collection—his father’s experiences in Vietnam and his own sexuality—intertwine in fascinating ways.”Santa Barbara Independent
  • Rapture is a journey of identity, one that explores the different—and often desperate—spaces in which the human experience can unfold simultaneously. . . . Touching and lyrical, emotional and relatable.”—Bustle
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