Praise for Bury My Clothes
If there is a poet for this Zeitgeist, of Arab Spring, of governments toppling, a poet to listen to the people, a poet not just for this country but all countries, a poet I have been looking for my whole life, it is Roger Bonair-Agard. Part Aimé Césaire, part Hikmet, part Black Arts Movement, part hip hop-non-stop-body-rock Brooklyn, he sees beyond borders to erase them with words. A poet of family, and funk ”ordained in the boogie,” of celebration and hallelujahs, and loss. Of knowing loss. And going on, as we all must go, Roger helps us go on, even though “All airports now make you weep. You come/from weeping—Wednesday’s child. 23. You come/from woe. Your mother and your passport tell you so.”
Sean Thomas Dougherty
Roger Bonair-Agard’s Bury My Clothes is an epic work within which we witness a man becoming himself–fighting for his beauty and the right to love a world on his terms of tenderness and seeing. In a purportedly “post-racial” time, these poems illuminate the reckless inaccuracy of the term and offer up a speech textured with both the violence of racial construction and the complicated gorgeousness borne out of survival and adaptation, resulting in a tenacious and difficult music, one that is not easily pinned. This is an ode to blackness written by the blood’s dusky map, its knowledge of heartlife and loss. Here, Bonair-Agard reminds us that History lurks beneath all speech and silence–and yet there is no crevice of grief or grace where something does not bloom. One cannot leave untouched–so quick are his hands, so quick is his tongue, so built out of the “sweet science of bruising” is his language. These poems insist on the beauty of the darknesses we are bound by, and mean to help us to live by reminding us: there is no crevice of grief or grace where something does not bloom.
These unapologetically relentless stanzas, practically quivering with funk and resolve, will slam their fists into places you have not yet discovered. One of poetry’s premier storytellers has taught the city to speak with his voice.
Bury My Clothes is a breadth of language that straddles Arouca and Chicago, hip-hop and calypso with the brawling, affirming righteousness of the Black televangelist leading us through violence and love to the wealth of unexpected tenderness
Roger Bonair-Agard has refined his line, composed a pulse upon which he conjures, with a sort of astonishing and tender obligation, the fantasies and pathos of adolescence as well as the complexities of mature reflection
These poems charm us into dance. They are graceful, cunning and libidinous… This collection is the pin that weaves together our disparate world.
…here is the splendor of testimonial verve, a large humanity, and humility by which Bonair-Agard names to dignify in poem after poem the beauty of the West Indian spirit, his people, their survival.