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About the Author

Cyre Jarelle Johnson is a writer and librarian living in New York City. They are a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. In 2018 their work appeared in The New York Times, Boston Review, Rewire News, The Root, Nat. Brut, and WUSSY. They have given speeches, lectures, and spoken on panels at The White House, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The University of Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, Tufts University, and Mother Bethel AME Church, among other venues. Their work has been profiled on PBS Newshour and Mashable. Cyre Jarelle has received fellowships and grants from Culture/Strike, Leeway Foundation, Astraea Foundation, Rewire News/Disabled Writers, Columbia University, and the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund. They are a founding member of The Harriet Tubman Collective and The Deaf Poets Society.


"The poems present themselves as homemade weapons."—Stephanie Burt, The New York Times "Contributions to crucial contemporary conversations ranging from blackness, transness, sex work, police violence, protest and neurodiversity."—Cat Fitzpatrick, Lambda Literary "A beautifully complex poetry collection, Johnson is defiantly sharp and humorous, with lines clearly from a technician. Themes include Black lives and organizing, disability, queerness, sex work, and societal devastation and care to name a few. If you want a book that flips formalism and confounds, SLINGSHOT is a stunning addition to your self-isolation reading life."—Kay Ulanday Barrett, them. "Johnson hits you like brick and awakens you to the revolution that could finally bring the phoenix from the burning embers of a society on the brink."—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine "Poems anchored in the mess of real-time violence and protest."—Bethany Mary, Vagabond City Lit "Rather than hold the reader’s hand and explain the complexities of the world they’re drawn from, these poems present themselves on their own terms and trust the reader to keep up. It is in this aspect that the poems point back to the title, in a way, each one a stone shot out to strike at the consciousness who hears it.—José Angel Araguz, The Friday Influence "Cyrée Jarelle Johnson’s SLINGSHOT is my new favorite book. It is a masterpiece of immeasurable dimension. Within the book, there is incalculable beauty and horror, with poems ‘to coil you in fistulae of yarn and stars,’ the moon ‘maroon/ in the black latex of Pine Barren sky,’ scenes so painful and glorious they cut into your consciousness, with ‘[e]ach fluttering eye pink/ as Coney Island cotton candy. Scarlet/ as suede church shoes.’ Once in a lifetime, there are those books of poems with language so deeply exquisite that it pierces through you and circumvents both simple tradition and innovation. Instead these books make a more timeless lyric, both pre- and post- time, echoing the past and future simultaneously, into an endless present of pure force. In our lifetime, SLINGSHOT is that book. Read it now."—Dorothea Lasky “'Queer utopians think human beings are perfectible/ but we’re not, we’re just correctable.' So begins one poem in Cyree Jarelle Johnson’s so-good-I-want-to-quote-every-last-line debut collection. But these two lines contain the central explosion and, though they sound like a statement, the central question of SLINGSHOT—What happens after the admission, the recognition of the fact that not everything is salvageable, that some things must go? The answers are various, are voracious: sometimes, zines; sometimes, toe-sucking; sometimes, 'ominous petrichor'; sometimes, total exhaustion over the so-called allies who bring 'a big ass pot of raw beans and rice with a lonely fucking bay leaf'; sometimes, 'burn manhood / down in button up crop tops.' And sometimes, Chewbacca. Johnson’s language here is restlessly inventive while acknowledging how tiring it is to always, always invent, reinvent—and some things don’t deserve to be reinvented. 'Oh please,” one poem says about America, 'Oh please / let it burn down this time.'”—Chen Chen "Nothing short of magnificent, Johnson jailbreaks language to speak ambitious, rigorous lyrics of Black/trans/disabled/sex working story. At times I screamed out loud at the wonderousness of the work. Slingshot is the next generation of Black disabled genius poetics, and I'm in awe and grateful."—Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha "Cyrée Jarelle Johnson writes us into a magnified intimacy, a textured devastation, a web that can be stretched, folded and replanted in a backroom, on the subway, and between lungs. SLINGSHOT establishes the conditions for its readability by entangling us in its refusals. Its density drags us across the riverbed of language with unforgiving and unapologetic force."—Raquel Salas Rivera

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