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English Lit by Bernard Clay

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Accessible but profound. Lyrical yet grounded. These poems almost all spring from the personal experience of a Black man who grew up in the West End of Louisville, became part of the Affrilachian Poets at the University of Kentucky, and has now gone back to the land near Berea. “There is no other poet living or dead that I can say this about, but I’ve been waiting on a book from Bernard Clay for more than twenty years. Every time I’ve ever read a single poem by him or heard him read a poem aloud I’ve wanted a volume of his work in my hands. He’s always had the ability to slice truth down to the bone and hold it up to the light. He’s grown more wise and his skills are sharper. I’m thankful these words are in the world and I’m certain that every reader who reads them will feel the same way.”—Crystal Wilkinson.  “One of the most rooted and nappiest voices of his generation, Bernard Clay delivers a beautiful tribute to his people, his community, and his generation’s dance with words, adding his name to the litany of Kentucky poets who love both the land and the people. – Frank X Walker. “Kentucky lit, American lit, have a new force that will be felt for years to come.”—Gurney Norman.

Lexington, Kentucky: Old Cove Press and Athens: Swallow Press/Oho University Press, 2021. 128 pages. Trade paperback.