"In these poems Amaud Jamaul Johnson channels a confluence of Robert Hayden, Frederick Douglass, and Dave Chappelle to create a synergistic poetry that sings the lyric, chants down babylon, and makes your head spin with the ironic twists of history seated on the front porch of the present. Darktown Follies
is an acutely discerning book that challenges the reader's sense of blackness in the American landscape. Intimate, intellectual, and incredibly funny, this is poetry carved from a past that can only be seen in the light of this moment." -- Matthew Shenoda
"Almost unbearably painful and poignant, Amaud Jamal Johnson's remarkable new book Darktown Follies walks the difficult line between historical record and lyric insight, embodying the legacy and power of The Minstrel Show. Johnson's poems figure minstrelsy not as cultural anomaly nor artifact, but as a method of 'othering' the dumb show of contemporary racial relations. One thinks of Paul Lawrence Dunbar's Mask, and equally Etheridge Knight's Shine. Johnson's minstrels are shifty and shifting, both objects and shapers of an outside gaze -- the smile indicts; the smile implicates. In Johnson's deft hands and acute ear, the overt address reflects and refracts the brutal amalgam and fragmentary pluralism, the assonance and dissonance that are the collective American experience. For what these poems reveal in us and about us, for what they project as us, and for their riveting beauty, we are awed at the tragedy and comedy of our histories and identities. We are at the mercy of The Show." -- James Hoch --Advance Praise
About the Author
Born and raised in Compton, California, Amaud Jamaul Johnson
was educated at Howard University and Cornell University. His first book, Red Summer
(Tupelo, 2006), was winner of the Dorset Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, his honors include fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, and Cave Canem. teaches in the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.