mystic turf by Quraysh Ali Lansana

ISBN  978-0-9852877-5-7

Willow Books


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Praise for mystic turf:

Advance Praise for mystic turf:

mystic turf is the poetry ‘that bears your name,’ like the very earth you walk upon and christen with your strides. In these poems that lyrically insinuate in brief yet lasting notes, Quraysh Ali Lansana tags the nervous streets, American foothills, domestic rooms and memories that constitute our bluesy soul, and asks, ‘why can’t we speak the grace we all avoid?’ We’ve no slipperiness here, just the solid walkings and meditations of a man poised in his life to speak the grace he’s earned and to speak his journey with enormous dignity and artfulness.”

–Major Jackson, author of Holding Company

“In this reflective, starkly personal book, this daring exploration of memories both melancholy and revelatory, Quraysh Ali Lansana has shattered that insistent barrier that often separates us from our own histories. These melodic, unflinching vignettes chronicle a search for a definitive root, and the poet’s journey mesmerizes, entertains, surprises and inspires.”

–Patricia Smith, author of Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House, 2012) and Blood Dazzler, 2008 National Book Award Finalist

“‘History will tell on you,’ Quraysh Ali Lansana writes in the epic opening poem of this stunning collection, and in poem after poem, history does indeed tattle. Lansana traces his coming of age in Enid, Oklahoma, a place in which ‘every where is nowhere,’ ‘what’s behind looks like what’s ahead’ and the speaker and his ‘Oklahomeys’ play hooky and sit ‘watching middle America gnaw on itself.’ It is a history both mystic and mythic, on turf that holds his lost mama’s pure light and ‘daddy’s muddy bloodline.’ Like Gwendolyn Brooks before him, Lansana contains his grief and rage in artful frames. Like Whitman, and then Langston Hughes, he, too, sings America, but his songs are elegiac, crooned with the ashes of the dead in his mouth, with red dirt in his hair.”

–Diane Seuss, author of Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open

“’my dreams sleep in beds they have outgrown,’ writes Quraysh Ali Lansana in ‘Orphan,’ and that uncomfortable realization echoes throughout this powerful collection, where street hustlers throw themselves in front of moving cars for the promise of insurance money, where the narrator’s biracial grandmother never claimed native and hated / anyone darker than a grocery bag. The poet’s turf here is very real, and it is a landscape where every path forks—the personal and the public, aspiration and failure—and where there is no history but right / now  maybe yesterday  we can’t remember. Lucky for us, though, Lansana does remember, and his ability to tease out each complexity makes this a crucial, rewarding book.”

–Philip Memmer, author of The Storehouses of the Snow


Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of seven poetry books, three textbooks, a children’s book, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing at Chicago State University, where he served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing from 2002-2011. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent poetry collection is mystic turf (Willow Books, 2012).

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