by Nikia Chaney
Publication Date: March 2018
Trade Paper; 112 pages; 5-1/4" x 8"
us mouth attempts to speak to the fracturing of intimate relationships, the importance of voice, song, and empathy as an instrument of connection and healing. The poems are filled with wordplay and rhythm to create an intensity of presence of various speakers who cry out in the pain and joy of being alive.
“Poets in the West love space (s), white space, caligrams, margins to the right—us mouth has them all, and yet its emotional dynamics hews close to the essence of the blues. In this new collection, California’s Nikia Chaney opens wide a mouth that bravely, tactlessly, or hungrily decries the fecklessness of men; the anguish of women; their desire for love; and the family torn apart by lies, laws, divorce, violence. us mouth is about that “we” of Black people mostly, but that “we” includes all who desire sex and love…with its “whipped slant” and other memorable phrases. The blues like any form changes with the time and these times call for a poet like Nikia Chaney who matches emotional risk and truth telling with inventiveness and she does so vividly in us mouth.” —Patricia Spears Jones, author of A Lucent Fire, Painkiller, Femme du Monde, and The Weather That Kills
“The narrative seam that snakes through a list; the way a syllable serves as stitch to line; the hollow of silence a caesura opens in a sentence’s certainties to give language a ledge over which to lean and look: ‘dimensional blades / in / quiet,’ Nikia’s poems split and suture. ‘Where she is testing a moment’ we find the breaks in which we conduct our blooming, in the noise and whip she pulls us toward shade, and source, and spill.” —Lyrae Van Clief- Stefanon, author of Open Interval and Black Swan
“Nikia Chaney in her first full-length book us mouth, writes, ‘something/ heretical in the lay/ of letter,’ and at first glance readers will want to tend to her truth. However, as you push through her lush lyrics and explosive language, you will ‘learn the pattern/of language the cadence, the swift speech.’ How can one help but not swoon and stumble in love on Chaney’s sheer sonic power, her lines reminiscent of Harryette Mullen? Whether Chaney carries the experimentalist torch or not, what is clear is the examination each poem cleaves into us as we rejoice, lament, observe, wail, live. Yes, us mouth makes you trust the life you live, and ‘not your tendency to disappear and dream.’ Such spectacular work!” —F. Douglas Brown, author of Zero to Three, winner of 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize