Boy with Thorn

Laurentiis's debut collection, winner of the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, oscillates between a lament for the brutalization of black bodies throughout history and a celebration of the pleasures of sexuality and desire. . . . an anxious tension that haunts the book; Laurentiis's difficulty in reconciling his relationship to canonical art, art's relationship to white supremacy, and his dual celebration of and mourning for lives at society's margins. Yet Laurentiis possesses the formal tools of a strong poet, and instead of reading too deeply into such a sociopolitical critique, potential readers should see that this promising writer still has room to grow.
Publishers Weekly

Winner, Cave Canem Poetry Prize
Winner, 2016 Levis Reading Prize
Finalist, 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award

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In a landscape at once the brutal American South as it is the brutal mind, Boy with Thorn interrogates the genesis of all poetic creation—the imagination itself, questioning what role it plays in both our fascinations with and repulsion from a national history of racial and sexual violence. The personal and political crash into one language here, gothic as it is supple, meditating on visual art and myth, to desire, the practice of lynching and Hurricane Katrina. Always at its center, though, is the poet himself—confessing a double song of pleasure and inevitable pain.

about the author

Rickey Laurentiis

Rickey Laurentiis, is the winner of the 2018 Whiting Award for Poetry. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, as well as fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Washington University in St. Louis. His poems appear or are forthcoming inÊBoston Review, Fence, Kenyon Review, New England Review, New Republic, Poetry, and elsewhere.ÊBorn in New Orleans, Louisiana, he currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Rickey Laurentiis