Judy Juanita's poetry collection, Manhattan My Ass, You're in Oakland, won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2021. Juanita, born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, explores the emotional geography of a rough terrain. These poems of the urban diaspora of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area encompass blues poems, verse and free verse, the sonnet, letter poems, protest poetry and many prose poems. This work follows the urban pastorals of Sonia Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks and Amiri Baraka, undercut with the deadpan humor and wordplay of an E.E. Cummings. Its staccato lines, wide-ranging topics and diction from news reports, conversation, the academy and slang, reach back to Allen Ginsberg, Jayne Cortez, Wanda Coleman, Charles Bukowski and Diane Wakoski. Even when it veers towards the tender, as in "Momma Love You Yepper Do," its raw edges preclude the sentimental. Of "Bruno Was From Brazil, " critic Jendi Reiter wrote: "it initially leans toward the prosy side of the equation, beginning in the voice of a hard-boiled detective story: 'I'm from Oakland and I'm not a statistic. Yet.' Halfway through, somewhere around the line 'Certain words are like gods, ' the piece takes off as a manic riff on racially charged language...The repetition of the word 'god' parallels the subsequent variations on 'nigger', reinforcing the connection between these concepts. Gods are lethally unpredictable, a power that we try and fail to contain with words and rituals, and yet a power we can't resist invoking to make sense of our lives. This poem suggests that racial and cultural identity, and perhaps even language itself, are essential aspects of being human, but also have the potential to dehumanize."The title poem is a defiant plea against relentless gentrification in Oakland and other urban centers. The howl arises and becomes a rant as this onslaught decimates a disappearing black and brown population. Disappearance, destruction, devaluation are the swords these poems battle.The city of Oakland becomes in these pages a war zone, a Gettysburg, a hallowed ground of the contemporary West littered with cannonballs, monuments, victories, defeats, battle hymns and dirges.