An NU Press Title
6.125 x 8.5, 84 pp.
ISBN 978-0-8101-2915-3 / $16.95
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Winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize
In his second collection of poetry, Reginald Harris traverses real and imagined landscapes, searching for answers to the question “What are you?” From Baltimore to Havana, Atlantic City to Alabama—and from the broad memories of childhood to the very specific moment of Marvin Gaye singing at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game shortly before his death—this is a travel diary of internal and external journeys exploring issues of race and sexuality. The poet traveler falls into and out of love and lust, sometimes coupled, sometimes alone. Autogeography tracks how who you are changes depending on where you are; how where you are and where you’ve been determine who you are and where you might be headed.
"Auto meaning self or same, and Geography meaning earth writing. In Autogeography, Harris explores the geographies that have written his identity as an African American and as a gay male. His stylistically diverse collection is personal, contemporary, marked by the rhythms of African American music, inventive, and filled with a disarming wit.
In "The Poet Behind the Wheel," Harris writes of the poet: "Do NOT let him drive you: / Buckle up and hours later / Who knows where you’ll arrive"—advice readers will be happy to ignore as Autogeography travels through a landscape of personal lyrics, descriptive portraits, and historical witness.
This is poetry that wants to speak to readers and not above them. He walks the streets you walk, sees the people you see, feels—especially in "The Lost Boys: A Requiem"— the same heart-breaking despair over the plight of African American males (drugs, violence, AIDS, urban ruin) that you feel. Harris is driving and readers are lucky to be in the passenger seat."
-- Janice Harington
“In Autogeography, Harris gives us the gift of quickening the treasure of black culture in poems that touch the enduring spirit of black people. He has baptized himself in that significant and signifying wellspring, the song of the African American quotidian. The poet celebrates black life and the way it connects to humanity, the bright woven cloth of all our lives. This book is the hoodoo ring shout call and response for love.”—Afaa Michael Weaver