What a beautiful read this week!
Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). She holds an MFA in Poetry and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University, and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Alleyne’s fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Women’s Studies Quarterly, Guernica, The Caribbean Writer, Black Arts Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gathering Ground, and Growing Up Girl, among others. Her work has earned several honors and awards, most recently the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany, a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship, and first place in the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Contest. Alleyne is a Cave Canem graduate, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. She currently works at James Madison University as Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an Associate Professor of English.
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Praise for Difficult Fruit
Lauren Alleyne’s voice is a revelatory and formidable fusion of irrepressible music and uncompromising craft. Like snippets of cinema, these poems arrest the senses and challenge what’s known. Every door this exceptional work opens opens onto a larger light.—Patricia Smith
To go back “is a verb conjugated in dreams,” Lauren Alleyne writes in her debut volume Difficult Fruit, inscribing the governing mystery of this work, the secret knowledge of the dead. In anaphoric bursts of incantatory disclosure, in ghazals of love and survival, eros and the infinite, she does, indeed, go back, past all griefs and illuminations, “to the song beneath the song.” There is uncommon spiritual knowledge here as well as political discernment. There is much to learn while accompanying Alleyne on her “raft of language,” through a troubled world and an imagined heaven, to the place “from which comes all singing.” I have gone with her and would do so again and again.—Carolyn Forché
Difficult Fruit is a book I wish there were no need for. But need there is; and Alleyne delivers poems of loss and grief and, thankfully, hope. “Meaning is the closest we get to salvation,/which is to say the word changes nothing/–it does not unmake the rivers,” she writes. But addressing the ages in ghazal and crown and free verse forms, she reminds us, in the “flaming sentence” that in one’s life, “it is in the raft of language we begin our escape.”—Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
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