2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNER
2020 FINALIST for the FIRECRACKER AWARDS
SLINGSHOT questions the value of manhood, the price of sex, and the possibility of liberation.
SLINGSHOT begins with the author ensconced in the menacing isolation of the pastoral, but once the work migrates to the City, monstrum grows form and fangs. In these messy, horny, desperate poems spun from dream logic, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson considers the consequences of black sexual and gender deviance, as well as the emotional burden of being forced to the rim of society, then punished for what keeps you alive.
"The poems present themselves as homemade weapons"--Stephanie Burt, The New York Times "Contributions to crucial contemporary conversations ranging from blackness, transness, sex work, police violence, protest and neurodiversity"--Cat Fitzpatrick, Lambda Literary "Johnson hits you like brick and awakens you to the revolution that could finally bring the phoenix from the burning embers of a society on the brink."--Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine "Poems anchored in the mess of real-time violence and protest"--Bethany Mary, Vagabond City Lit "'Queer utopians think human beings are perfectible / but we're not, we're just correctable.' So begins one poem in Cyree Jarelle Johnson's so-good-I-want-to-quote-every-last-line debut collection. But these two lines contain the central explosion and, though they sound like a statement, the central question of SLINGSHOT--What happens after the admission, the recognition of the fact that not everything is salvageable, that some things must go? The answers are various, are voracious: sometimes, zines; sometimes, toe-sucking; sometimes, 'ominous petrichor'; sometimes, total exhaustion over the so-called allies who bring 'a big ass pot of raw beans and rice with a lonely fucking bay leaf'; sometimes, 'burn manhood / down in button up crop tops.' And sometimes, Chewbacca. Johnson's language here is restlessly inventive while acknowledging how tiring it is to always, always invent, reinvent--and some things don't deserve to be reinvented. 'Oh please," one poem says about America, 'Oh please / let it burn down this time.'"--Chen Chen "Nothing short of magnificent, Johnson jailbreaks language to speak ambitious, rigorous lyrics of Black/trans/disabled/ sex working story. At times I screamed out loud at the wonderousness of the work. Slingshot is the next generation of Black disabled genius poetics, and I'm in awe and grateful."--Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha "Cyrée Jarelle Johnson writes us into a magnified intimacy, a textured devastation, a web that can be stretched, folded and replanted in a backroom, on the subway, and between lungs. SLINGSHOT establishes the conditions for its readability by entangling us in its refusals. Its density drags us across the riverbed of language with unforgiving and unapologetic force."--Raquel Salas Rivera