The Trouble with Light (Miller Williams Poetry Prize) (Paperback)

The Trouble with Light (Miller Williams Poetry Prize) By Jeremy Michael Clark Cover Image
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In The Trouble with Light, Jeremy Michael Clark reflects on the legacy of familial trauma as he delves into questions about belonging, survival, knowledge, and self-discovery in unflinching lyrical poems. “Like you,” he writes, “I have . . . [a] history of / hardly caring for my body, of letting / whoever drink their share of me, / thinking it could cure / my fear of dirt.” Whether ruminating on intimacy, lineage, identity, faith, or addiction, Clark’s poems embody a restless, rigorous curiosity. Largely set in the poet’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his portraits of interiority gracefully juxtapose the sorrows of alienation and self-neglect with the restorative power of human connection. In one of the most affectionate—and characteristically ambivalent—poems in the collection, Clark recalls, “For days, doubt struck as does lightning / across the span of night. . . . Love? If it exists, / it’s the uncertainty one feels before a thunderclap, / after the sky’s gone dark again.” A vulnerable and transporting debut, The Trouble with Light is a vital record of how grief can endure, and how we can yet endure ourselves.

About the Author

Jeremy Michael Clark earned his MFA from Rutgers University–Newark and his MSW from the University of Pennsylvania after working as an editorial assistant at Callaloo. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Common, Poem-a-Day, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. His work has also been recognized with support from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, the Community of Writers, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

Praise For…

“Heart-wrenching and eloquent, Jeremy Michael Clark’s poems grapple with the traumas of childhood poverty, an absent father, a violent stepfather, and a southern landscape that, like the speaker, also grapples with the ‘trying times’ of the past. The Trouble with Light lays bare a bittersweet homecoming, a journey that moves slowly through painful memory but pauses to breathe on moments limned with hope. What a striking and glorious debut.”
—Rigoberto González, author of To the Boy Who Was Night

“In The Trouble with Light, Clark illuminates how the past not only remains present but also offers a force to keep us alive. There’s wisdom in these poems informed by experience and fueled by love. There’s also a redefining of home as a place that develops a culture you’re living within, while another home and culture develops within you. That’s to say, these poems made me take a long look at my own life. Clark, when all seems lost, ‘brings a kind / light, a clarity, forgetting everything / night makes possible.’ When faced with crossing troubled waters, turn to these poems and bathe instead in their glow.”
—A. Van Jordan, author of When I Waked, I Cried to Dream Again

“With spellbinding music, Clark conjures a bittersweet coming-of-age. These poems are full of tenderness, deep longing, and familial reckoning: “a desire to know, & a belief / he deserved to.” Each poem delivers us into mystery, like the river that both divides and carries the poet’s home city. These are stunning songs of Black boyhood from an exciting new voice.”
—Kiki Petrosino, author of Bright: A Memoir

Product Details
ISBN: 9781682262498
ISBN-10: 1682262499
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication Date: March 21st, 2024
Pages: 76
Language: English
Series: Miller Williams Poetry Prize