I admit it; I judged a book by its cover. The title – “The New Testament” – put me off at first. Too much religion can make me itchy. But I found the cover photo haunting, and the cover also featured an Anisfield-Wolf Books Awards sticker, and their selection committee has never let me down. I started reading the collection after I had the honor and good fortune of hearing Brown present a few of his poems at the awards ceremony, and I was simply blown away – by his presence, by his delivery, and most of all, by his words. These poems are lean. “Langston’s Blues,” “Heart Condition,” and “The Interrogation” are three of my favorites. Everything is in here – masculinity, sexuality, family, music, race, and yes, religion. Brown does not take a poem off. He does not even take a word off. This is a necessary collection, not just one to keep, but one to keep close at hand – a spiritual guide.
Cover art –
“Another Elegy” –