The stirring debut from the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, selected and introduced by Chris Abani
Heed the Hollow introduces the work of Malcolm Tariq, whose poems explore the concept of “the bottom” across blackness, sexuality, and the American South. These lyrics of queer desire meet the voices of enslaved ancestors to reckon with a lineage of trauma that manifests as silence, pain, and haunting memories, but also as want and love. In bops, lyrics, and erasures, Heed the Hollow tells of a heritage anchored to the landscape of the coastal South, to seawalls shaped by forced labor, and to the people “marked into the bottom / of history where then now / we find no shadow of life.” From that shadow, the voices in these poems make their own brightness, reclaiming their histories from a language that evolved to exclude them.
About the Author
Malcolm Tariq is from Savannah, Georgia, and is the author of Extended Play, winner of the 2017 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Contest. A graduate of Emory University, he has a PhD in English from the University of Michigan. He lives in New York.
“Like a name carved deep in the bark of a tree, Tariq’s assured, ineradicable verse presses the poet into a lamentable history and makes it his own.”—Oprah.com
“With deeply moving metaphors and sharp imagery with backdrops of the American South, Tariq plants an emotional seed that dares us to examine our history while remaining conscious of our present path.”—The Advocate
“Tariq chronicles the South like no other poet has. This is proud (and haunting) work.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
“The collection’s formal variation and its astute attention to wordplay create a kind of documentary poetics made visible through the breaking and reassembling of language.”—Michigan Quarterly Review
“Tariq is not only rivaling the best poets writing today, but that he’s adding to the larger conversations regarding identity, sexuality, place, and the role certain bodies play in spaces where they have not been historically accepted.”—Heavy Feather Review
“[Heed the Hollow] engages with the American South, the history of slavery, and sexuality and eroticism in candid, unexpected ways.”—Pulp
“Heed the Hollow interrogates the linguistics of being, the verb and noun of what it means to be human, as well as to be history, to be present and sexualized and loved, to be full and hollow. Tariq is asking, gorgeously, a question, and allows anyone to answer.”—BookPage, starred review
“Tariq’s daring debut explores the intersection of black, queer, and Southern identity. . . . Readers of Robin Coste Lewis will appreciate Tariq’s archival erasures, while Natasha Trethewey fans will appreciate a journey to South Carolina’s ‘Ellis Island of Slavery.’ . . . Reckoning with historical atrocities and making use of a variety of formal gestures, Tariq triumphs in creating his distinctive brand of blues.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This collection presents a brave voice in poetry, unapologetically honest and alarmingly astute.”—Booklist
“Malcolm Tariq’s Heed the Hollow charts a neglected history, reinscribing a loved and loving black body into a narrative of excavation. These poems are lyrically complex, charged, artfully and erotically made. This is a rare and exciting debut.”—Chris Abani, judge’s statement for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize
“With beguiling shade and a sensuous portrait of bottom epistemology, [Tariq] delivers upon us bittersweet experiences of black queer life in the South. . . . I cannot unhear these poems. . . . I surrender all to Heed the Hollow.”—E. Patrick Johnson
“‘[Heed the Hollow] entails grappling with the notion of the bottom. The speaker descends, sounding a familiar abyss that is the throat of the haunted South. . . .Tariq hails a certain reader, ‘unsure / of the destination but down for the ride.’”—Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon