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When the Only Light Is Fire (Paperback)
Poetry. LGBT Studies. African American Studies. In his debut chapbook of poetry, Saeed Jones walks on the periphery of the South, those places on the outskirts of town, in bars after midnight, and on dangerous backroads where most people keep their heads down or look the other way. Through Texas and Tennessee, Alabama and the riverbeds of the Mississippi, these poems wrap themselves in cloaks of masks and comfort; garments we learn are flammable if we stand too close to flames. D. A. Powell says of Saeed's work: "Like Aeneas carrying his father from the ruined city of Troy, Saeed Jones brings all of his beginnings the roots and tendrils of the kudzu vines, the 'sky burned to blazing, ' the lore and pain and wisdom of salvation into a new space where art and beauty stagger the mind; where the story of transformation becomes part of the cultural body of who we are. I get shout-happy when I read these poems; they are the gospel; they are the good news of the sustaining power of imagination, tenderness and outright joy; they are the birth of a new poetry that baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire.