Behind The Book

Why is The Blues Cry For A Revolution broken down into three parts?

The Blues Cry For A Revolution is a poetry collection that navigates systemic oppression black victims, watchers, and resisters face in the United States. But initially, I was stuck coming up with a way to connect the feelings and lived realities that inspired the 40-poem collection. How can I write about oppression in a fresh way? Was a constant question I asked myself. Eventually, the answer became be “too original.” How? Show as many perspectives as poetry forms.

“For The Unknown Victims” was my first section and its perspective was to reframe black issues that dominate the media. (‘Cause black people dying ain’t the only newsworthy issue.) These poems attempt to shift the narrative to restructure our reactions. “For Brown Girls Whose Names Never Amber Alert,” is a poem that brings the reader’s attention to the sparingly covered epidemic of black girls who disappear. On the other hand, “For The Unknown Victims of Systematic Oppression” grapples with a convicted black man’s life in jail. In both poems, support disappears and hope falters. All the poems in this section were intentional in framing what us black people go through.

The second section, “For Those Who Watch” shows what we do witnessing similar tough-to-grapple-with situations. The poem “For Black Cops Who Bleed Blue,” reveals the complicated relationship a black cop has being a part of the American Justice System and yet unwelcome in his community. In the poem, “Bystanders,” the narrator witnesses another black man take advantage of a black woman and lives with the regret. More of the poems in this section live in the grey area of tough-to-grapple-with situations.

Where some of us live with the regret of inaction, others like the last section “Those Who Resist,” walk alternate paths and persevere. These poems show in many ways micro-resistance. Some of it is plain rage like in, “Blaxplosion.” Another way is raising awareness through black history as in “What Should I Call It?” Neither of these poems capture all examples of how black oppression is handled. But the goal, hope, and prayer is to stamp a lasting impression on the reader.

After reading The Blues Cry For A Revolution, will the reader willingly decide to be an unknown victim, watcher, or resister? Art at its core mirrors reality. And if the reader doesn’t like what’s being reflected then maybe my collection will nudge them forward to act.

Rashaun J. Allen is the first Fulbright scholar in SUNY Stony Brook’s MFA in Creative Writing & Literature program history. A Vermont Studio Center and Arts, Letters and Numbers residency recipient whose two independently published poetry chapbooks: A Walk Through Brooklyn and In The Moment became Amazon Kindle Best Sellers in African American Poetry. He has been nominated for Sundress Publication’s 2018 Best of the Net anthology in Creative Non-Fiction and was a 2017 Steinberg Essay Contest Finalist in Fourth Genre. His writing has appeared in TSR: The Southampton Review, Tishman Review, Rigorous, Auburn Avenue, Poui, Hypertext and River Styx.

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