Publication Date: 08/06/2023 ISBN: 9781035000821 Category:

Bread and Circus

Airea D. Matthews

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 08/06/2023 ISBN: 9781035000821 Category:
Paperback / Softback


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Formally ambidextrous, teethed with wit and uncompromising dignity.” – Ocean Vuong

Bread and Circus is a hybrid and palimpsestic memoir-in-verse: it combines poetry, photography and spectral imaging to explore the realities of economic necessity and marginal poverty through a personal lens.

Examining the experience of the US urban Black community from a variety of perspectives, it draws heavily on Airea D. Matthews’s archival research on Adam Smith, the eighteenth-century Scottish economist, as well as his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations.

As the perspective shifts from watchful child, to teacher, mother, writer and citizen, Bread and Circus asks what it is to have survived, indeed to have flourished, and at what cost.

Publisher Review

'This book enacts, with tenderness and intelligence, an erudition that matches the capacious love of its ambitions. Formally ambidextrous, teethed with wit and uncompromising dignity, Matthews engages the archive as a breathing document, refusing to let history be done with itself, and thereby accomplishes what I love most about poetry- especially hers-that it lives, is living.' -- Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous 'Matthews's writing is bold, innovative and complex.' * Washington Post * 'Matthews is virtuosic, frantic, and darkly, very darkly, funny.' * New Yorker * 'Matthews has earned a place in the accomplished company of Adrienne Rich and Muriel Rukeyser.' * Booklist * 'When sinking into the work of Airea Matthews within Bread and Circus, "gratitude" is the word that most eagerly leaps to mind. I am grateful to be witness to a writer dismantling the boundaries of form, shape, and language, while not sacrificing any brilliance on the page. This is a stunning collection of work, which feels both ahead of its time and also abundantly on time.' -- Hanif Abdurraqip, author of The Little Devil in America 'From page to unrelenting page in this fierce and brilliant book, Airea Matthews shows us just how high the stakes of poetry should be. If you are not writing to save your life, you are not writing in Airea Matthews' league.' -- Linda Gregerson, author of Canopy 'Roman poet Juvenal criticized a public distracted with free wheat and mindless entertainment. Toni Morrison said the point of racism is to keep us distracted from fully living our lives. With the genius and ferocity of mother love, Airea Matthews's Bread and Circus shreds our expectations of what poems can be and do while clearing the air of the illusions that cloud our understanding of past, present, self and other. Lift the cover and breathe in the clarity concentrated on these pages." -- Gregory Pardlo, author of Digest

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