Congrats to Reginald Flood, NEA Creative Writing Fellow
Praise for COFFLE:
“Reginald Flood’s Coffle is an effusive down-home symphony that surrounds the reader with a warmly familiar, addicting music–you’ll find yourself ‘amen-ing’ out loud while reading these deftly-rendered tributes to the bone, breath and bodaciousness of colored folk.”
–Patricia Smith, author of Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah(Coffee House, 2012) and Blood Dazzler, 2008 National Book Award Finalist
Douglass in London 1854 (ten minutes before addressing Female Anti-Slavery Society)
I am not going to talk about Hester tonight.
Ropes from wall cutting into wrist flesh with each strike
on her bare back. Not going to talk about that slave breaker
Covey either, I was just tired of being beat because
that damn ox wanted new grass. This freedom is fog and freezing.
Two already have asked if I will sing tonight.
They look closely at me when they inquire, up and down
but never eye to eye. I will start with the bread.
They always like that. That tale about trading bread chunks for a vowel
or consonant with the poor white boys helps relieve their shock
when this voice fills the room. This group will want to hear
about my mother. I am cold here without the smell
of a real sea. There is nothing there I miss, nothing
but there were moments when salt air blended with caulk and steam
in a mist that warmed that scaffold into a Baltimore noon
hours before I had to give that bastard my day’s pay
and try hard not to remember what those ships were for.
Reginald Flood is a native of south central Los Angeles who now lives in a small town in southeastern Connecticut with his family. He has received a Walker Fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Center and was the recipient of the 2010 Editor’s Prize from Tidal Basin Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Cave Canem X Anniversary Collection, Massachusetts Review, African American Review, Mythium and Hampton-Sydney Review. He is a Cave Canem fellow and teaches composition, African American literature and creative writing in the English department at Eastern Connecticut State University. Coffle is his first full collection.