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Paperback Price: $15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-25-1


Selected Poem

a woman looks at her breasts in the mirror the way

her father would have looked at his chest.
Looking for where the rib, if he were
an evening, then weather would stretch
and light, each eclipse ragged

against night rose. every thump would stereo
stereo. He would touch her
breast the way she would touch
his chest. leaf to pond.

play dead


2017 Finalist for the Publishing Triangle Award

2017 Finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards

“francine j. harris’s poems are tenderized: they not only insist upon their embodiment, they punch, howl, beat, and bleed their way into being.”
Boston Review

“…The poems in [play dead] provide scrappy, cunning, and inventive methods of survival.”
Drunken Boat

“This book talks smack. This book chews with its open mouth full of the juiciest words, the most indigestible images. This book undoes me. In play dead, francine j. harris brilliantly ransacks the poet’s toolkit, assembling art from buckets of disaster and shreds of hope. Nothing she lays her mind’s eye on escapes. You, too, will be captured by her work.”
—Evie Shockley

“I mean, beautiful is part of it—woundingly, shreddingly, frighteningly beautiful. But it’s more than that. I feel like these are poems that crowbar open the sealed-up worlds of our hurt and let some light in. And that’s only part of it too. What francine j. harris does with language—diction, syntax, the line, the image—is unlike almost anything I know. I’m saying, they re-imagine and re-deploy language in an almost unspeakable way. I read these poems with my eyes and brain, I’m saying, but I read them with my heart and my gut, too. With my neck and the stuff between my vertebrae. My fingernails. I think you have to. I read these poems not knowing they were possible, I’m saying. Thinking stuff like my god. Do you know what I’m saying?”
—Ross Gay

“Whatever francine j. harris is writing about—whether her mother or Detroit, sex or addiction—I love the vitality of her language, the sense of joy and tumble inherent to her poems. Her mind has a figurative ease akin to drawing breath, a way of seeing that is unmistakably hers. She reminds me that, in trying to perceive the world anew, all poets are attempting to praise, to show us the worth of life as it is, or as it could be. This is an exciting book by a dynamic and insightful poet.”
—Bob Hicok

“[harris uses] her long lists and quick cuts to portray a young woman in flight from herself; at the same time, her figurative language can rise into confidence, showing exactly how and why ‘[s]he wants to set the house ablaze.’”
Academy of American Poets

“harris’s visual kinesis can be so intensely acrobatic and explosive, reading her can makes me rethink just how and why for thousands of years we have linked poetry to the body.”
Adam Fitzgerald, Lit Hub

“. . . harris risks all with a collection that’s raw and punchy as a street fight. . . . Portrayed in searing, relentless language, the world here is an edgy and dangerous place, where families are splintered, sex and violence grind against each other, and ‘nothing is safe./ any corner could be a cement truck. or a gun.
—Library Journal

“. . . play dead challenges us in the way that only the most daring poetry can.”
—Michigan Radio, NPR

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  1. Bull Pen: 11 JAN 2016 – Bull City Press - January 11, 2016

    […] many terrific books coming out: look for Another and Another contributor francine j. harris’ Play Dead (Alice James Books) & good friend of the Bull City, Solmaz Sharif’s Look (Graywolf […]

  2. Bull Pen: 18 JANUARY 2016 – Bull City Press - January 18, 2016

    […] Daily Writing series anthology, Another & Another have new books due soon: francine j. harris, Play Dead (Alice James Books) & Jamaal May, The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books). […]

  3. Feministing Reads: What We’re Reading - April 18, 2016

    […] currently making my way through francine j. harris’ second book of poetry, Play Dead, but I just finished reading Fatimah Asghar’s debut poetry chapbook, After. It’s a […]

  4. where you could sit up straight | Fishouse - June 16, 2016

    […] you could sit up straight” is from play dead (Alice James Books, […]

  5. “Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” | Fishouse - June 16, 2016

    […] after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X'” is from play dead (Alice James Books, […]

  6. afterwards the boys stand in the kitchen. | Fishouse - June 16, 2016

    […] the boys stand in the kitchen.” is from play dead (Alice James Books, […]

  7. Things That WIRED Magazine Doesn’t Talk About: In Conversation with francine j. harris and Devin Kenny - August 16, 2016

    […] time, I talk to poet francine j. harris and interdisciplinary artist, Devin Kenny, whose work spans performance, scholarly research, […]

  8. EP 08 Poet & Scholar Evie Shockley - Contemporary Black Canvas - January 27, 2017

    […] Play Dead Francine J. Harris […]

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