Winner of the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize
Winner for the Minnesota Book Award
Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award
Finalist for the 2021 National Book Award
Finalist for the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Award
Finalist for the Griffin Award for Poetry
Eschewing performative typography, Douglas Kearney’s Sho aims to hit crooked licks with straight-seeming sticks. Navigating the complex penetrability of language, these poems are sonic in their espousal of Black vernacular strategies, while examining histories and current events through the lyric, brand new dances, and other performances. Both dazzling and devastating, Sho is a genius work of literary precision, wordplay, farce, and critical irony. In his “stove-like imagination,” Kearney has concocted poems that destabilize the spectacle, leaving looky-loos with an important uncertainty about the intersection between violence and entertainment.
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Sho is Douglas Kearney’s genius, vulnerability, and virtuosity on full display. These poems live in the rhythms of negotiation and navigation, at the root of saying. They elide, slide, exist in fitful comprehension of our world—where the public and private collide: "The funk, recall, as most Black Shit once was and is sickness" This is work that even on the page, refuses the page with its "performative typography." Always playful, forever in dialogue, Kearney’s poems come at being from all sides. This book is the crowning achievement of Kearney’s body of work to date.
Judges' citation, Griffin Poetry Prize
I think the book is anti-spectacle. It is asking the reader to see, to really see (not for show), and to reckon with the atrocities of our time. All the while, Kearney’s language is always new, is always about possibility and expansion, and always dazzling.
Victoria Chang, LARB
Kearney's prosody is miraculous. Explosive double beats launch the lines or hit the break like a hi-hat. Slant rhymes suggest infinite puns, but Kearney sometimes downshifts from complexity and just cruises around the neighborhood. Formalism as syncopation and signification: I can't think of another writer as gifted as Kearney is at sound.
Ken Chen, NPR Books
Sho exemplifies the daring possibilities for poetry today. Despite the devastation held within our lexicon, words hold the dazzling potential that we can rise through language to "come up clutching what is under— / come back striking / what’s above.”
CD Eskilson, The Arkansas International
Douglas Kearney has published eight books ranging from poetry to essays to libretti. His most recent book is a collection of talks he presented for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series titled Optic Subwoof (Wave Books, 2022). His most recent poetry collection, Sho (Wave Books, 2021), is a Griffin Poetry Prize and Minnesota Book Award winner, and a National Book Award, Pen America, Hurston/Wright, Kingsley Tufts, and Big Other Book Award finalist. He is the 2021 recipient of OPERA America’s Campbell Opera Librettist Prize, created and generously funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell. Kearney is a 2022 McKnight Writing Fellow. A Whiting Writer’s and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly awardee with residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others, he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
ISBN# 9781950268153 (7 x 9, 104pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781950268160 (7 x 9, 104pp, limited edition hardcover)
ISBN# 9781950268627 (e-book*)