Product Details

Wayne State University Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

francine j. harris is a Detroit native whose recent work has appeared in Rattle, Callaloo, and Michigan Quarterly Review and she is the author of the recent chapbook between old trees. She is a Cave Canem fellow, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and is currently a Zell Post-MFA Fellowship recipient at the University of Michigan.


What grounds this collection more than anything is its problematic relationship with Detroit, a city undergoing bankruptcy and governmental restructuring. Detroit is like family to this poet, and only family members can talk this way about their own and still love them at the same time. Take for instance the poem "i live in detroit," which is a ghazal and echoes both the beauty and the ugly in Detroit, expressing the dualism in urban centers and in human relationships: "there are plenty of violets in flophouses. pistils broken open on forty-ounce mouth lids making honeybees bastards in detroit." Through end stops and clever enjambment the reader is kept on edge, waiting for the next epiphany.

--Randall Horton "LA Review of Books"

The poems in allegiance explore the intersection of terror and tenderness in imagery and music so original that there is a gasp of surprise/pleasure/recognition. As all great singers do, francine j. harris startles us with the intimacy of her voice, and also astonishes with the art of it. This collection brings us an important writer tackling crucial emotional events, but francine j. harris is truly a poet, doing much of her work below the surface of her words. There is not a forgettable poem on any of these pages."

--Laura Kasischke

In her debut collection, allegiance, francine j. harris makes an instrument of each poem. Somehow both surgical and blunt, the poems sing. That is, they will wake your neighbors. These poems highlight the limits of propriety, but what might appear to be irreverence is devotion cleansed of pretense. The object of Harris's devotion is often Detroit, and like the city she loves, the poems have little patience for sentimentality. They'll snatch you up by the collar, throw you in a chair and make you listen. And then, line by line, these poems will break your heart."

--Gregory Pardlo

Very strong and contrasting figures emerge in francine j. harris's memorable first collection of poems. There is an odd lyric telegraphing here just in the way strobe lighting carries movement, or serial narrative, in the dark. These are tropes of knowledge in a time of great ignorance. This is a wonderful book of poems."

--Norman Dubie