Annotations for Shahid Reads His Own Palm
Reginald Dwayne Betts is a husband. the father of a young son and a poet. Betts won a 2010 NAACP Image Award. He has been awarded the Holden Fellowship from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, the Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute, a Cave Canem Fellowship and a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. His poetry has appeared in such journals as Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review and Poet Lore. Betts graduated from Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland and the University of Maryland in College Park. His memoir, A Question of Freedom, was published by Avery/Penguin in 2009.
"These fierce and skillful poems are for our time and place the cry of Blake's London and of his Auguries of Innocence: A dog starv'd at his master's gate | Predicts the ruin of the state. Here is a brother at his brother's gate. Shahid. A witness. Here, as C.D. Wright has said, is our One Big Self."---Jean Valentine
"Inside silence there is a sliver of light that is the seed of the music of these poems, the origin of a melodic range we seldom see in a poet's first collection. These melodies move in a harmonic range affirming human struggle with an extraordinary elegance. This collection of song is definite evidence of the gift."---Afaa Michael Weaver
"Dwayne Betts' poems---from the first moment I encountered them---read like revelation. This poet has entered the fire and walked out with actual light inside him. These poems---clear, muscular, musical---are what the light says. I've waited for this book for years!"---Marie Howe
Gripping and terrifying, eloquent and heartwrenching, this debut collection delves into hellish territory: prison life. Soulful poems somberly capture time-bending experiences and the survivalist mentality needed to live a contradiction, confronting both daily torment and one's illogical fear of freedom.
Reginald Dwayne Betts sings mournfully, bearing witness within prisoners' cells, pulling readers to walk through a brutal underworld.