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Muscadine
Muscadine by A.H. Jerriod Avant
by A.H. Jerriod Avant


 
Paperback. Signed.
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New York, NY: Four Way Books (September 15, 2023)

Paperback.

A. H. Jerriod Avant’s debut collection, Muscadine, cultivates the vine of familial memory, eulogizing our collective losses while exalting the succor of this human life, how the native grape’s “thick skin [that] teeth / pierce breaks to pour // sweetly across the tongue.” Throughout these pages, a deeply Southern sensibility balances an environmental awareness of deficit and bounty — appetite pains the stomach and delights the palette. In all seasons, the tongue’s subversive intelligence sculpts this masterwork of love, grace, conflict, and grief.

This book tastes summer and the “ruins of / an afternoon” at once; it explores the language that testifies to loss while illuminating the abundance that loss obscures. Avant accentuates the sonic joys that Black Southern voices bring to bear on memorializing the present and commemorating the past. Don’t forget, he tells us. “Look how I hunger where // there is no hunger.” See how the weather changes swiftly and forever: “Look / how pops left before we // thought he was done.” But notice, too, how an echo sounds remembrance: “Listen, / how the voice of a dead man // can live.” He commands us to take the brief blooms with us, says, “Pack me a bag / I can fit in my heart.”

A. H. Jerriod Avant was born and raised in Longtown, Mississippi. A graduate of Jackson State University, Jerriod has earned MFA degrees from Spalding University and New York University. He’s received scholarships from the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference and Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program. A former resident at the James Castle House and Vermont Studio Center, Jerriod has received two winter fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and an emerging artist grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. His work has appeared in the Boston Review, Pinwheel, Callaloo, Virginia Quarterly Review, Obsidian, The Yale Review, and other journals. He’s currently a Ph.D. English candidate (Spring 2023) at the University of Rhode Island and a Teaching Fellow in English at Wesleyan University.

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