Willie James King

Autumn’s Only Blood
Willie James King

“Willie James King “steadies the plow” with his compassionate poems in a world where no one is “safe from the chaos / of a world caving in on itself.” Writing from an Alabama where “somehow, those old Confederates don’t stay dead,” he celebrates unsung heroes like a teacher who sees her job as creating “the kind of kids willing / to die for the lives their ancestors lost.” The theme of continuance, of survival to see a more humane world, runs throughout these poems, beginning in the “ruin / on ruin” that is Haiti and ending by savoring a backwoods plum and longing to be where “leaves won’t wither on the willow, / even when the earth seems fallow in snow.””
—Bryce Milligan, author of Lost and Certain of It and Alms for Oblivion

“Willie James King is a truthseeker, a trustseeker. In this book he pursues his double quest first by examining the injustices to all humanity through the 2011 execution of Troy Davis, the murder of Martin Luther King and the forced uprooting of thousands of ancestor-souls from Africa. After our long history of “rubble and arms” King’s good-hearted emotional positivism still flickers: “the earth seems fallow”; there is still a promise, at least a possibility of fertility, rebirth.”
—Kathleene West, author of Water Witching and The Summer of the Sub-Comandante

“How a poet comes to his voice remains a mystery and so it should remain, for poetic lyricism and passion rise up in the darkest of times, as well as in the most beautiful. It sings those moments when the words in one’s mouth taste of blood, as well as those when they taste of ripe plum, sweet, sweet, sweet, as Willie James King reminds us, closing out his powerful new book of poems. Dedicated to Troy Davis, executed by my native state of Georgia after denying an appeal that might have exonerated him, these poems speak honestly of the injustice inflicted by racism, the strength of resistence, and the sheer pleasure, inextricable from the pain, that being alive can bring, and doing so with what I call pure, unadulterated “wordlove.” This poet has learned to trust his language, let it lead him where the poem needs to go. His poems sing, mourn, rage, celebrate, their language always remaining true to its source.”
—Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of Wildwood Flower and Southern Fictions

“There is nothing pedestrian about Willie James King’s latest collection of poems, Autumn’s Only Blood. With the sure eye for details of a mystic who is conversant with the natural world, with the careful craft of one who has learned “to steady the plow” in a stony field, and with a profundity of spirit as inspired and original as Blake’s, King is a seeker whose poems are, “blooming, as if/they ought to be this/autumn’s only blood.” Dedicated to Troy Davis, executed in fall 2011, this collection, unflinching in its candor and compassion, eloquently articulates the Black experience in Alabama. A student during the 60s Civil Rights Movement, King became a teacher whose charge was “to create the kind of kids willing/to die for the lives their ancestor lost” so that he “put down the chalk, took to walking/the hot highway with them.” His poems walk us down that highway, seeking healing and justice in an unjust world. There is much to be learned here, and I am grateful to be one of King’s students.”
—Pamela Uschuk, author of Crazy Love, winner of a 2010 American Book Award

Autumn’s Only Blood
ISBN: 9781939670846
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