Cover Art: ruby onyinyechi amanze
Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer
Paperback, 88 pages, 7” X 9”
June 2016, ISBN 978-1-936919-39-0
About Aziza Barnes
Aziza Barnes is blk and alive. Born in Los Angeles, she currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi. You can find her work in PANK, pluck!, Muzzle, Callaloo, Union Station, The Rumpus, The Offing, and The Breakbeat Poets, among other journals and collections. Her full-length collection, i be, but i ain’t, winner of The Pamet River Prize, is out from YesYes Books. Her chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the Nailgun, was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize, published by Button Poetry. Her poetry has also been chosen for the 2015 Winter Tangerine Award and 2013 Gallery Prize for Radical Presence. She is Cofounder of Poetry Gods podcast, a poetry & non-fiction editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a Callaloo fellow, a Poets’ House fellow, a graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a candidate for her MFA in Poetry at University of Mississippi.
i be, but i ain't by Aziza Barnes
About i be, but i ain't
Winner, Pamet River Prize, 2016
Barnes commandeers the page in her startling debut, putting into language a range of lived experiences that expose crucial gaps in language and history.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
For a poet like Barnes who works with multiple layers of diction and code shifting, the collision of subject matter, music, and meaning allows complex ideas to surface.
i be, but i ain’t is a manual for the queered Black body in neo-bellum America. Following the character “mutt,” and resurrecting the haint Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, i be, but i ain’t is a search party hosted by this pair, both in pursuit of understanding what a Black body means in this landscape. Is it property? A nuisance comparable to a cockroach? A zombie in Richard Pryor’s suit? A sexed commodity? Traversing LA, Ghana, Mississippi and Brooklyn, i be, but i ain’t aims to contend with the armament left from unfinished wars, havens and points of no return.
i be, but i ain’t is a powerful debut that refuses to stroke you soft or angle to be your best friend. Instead, these poems revel in the menagerie of their own discomfort, and ours. Barnes’s is a wild imagination and her poems are an ill grammar akin to Jayne Cortez’s percussive surrealism of the body...Her poetic is challenging and sophisticated, in a language that refuses to assuage.
—Dawn Lundy Martin