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TROUBLE THE WATER called 'hauntingly amusing'

Derrick Austin's debut collection Trouble the Water is receiving high praise from all over, most recently from The Rumpus and Pank Magazine. Both places highlight Austin’s fearless dive into issues of race, sexuality, and religion.

The Rumpus focuses on Austin’s voice, and how he isn’t writing an angry war song, but rather a meditation on what the world could be like if we allowed ourselves to live with our hearts open: "At the end, Austin’s speaker does not instruct us to 'Make a fist,' to strike back at the world for its wrongs. Neither does he instruct us to fold our hands in a more traditional posture of prayer. His eyes are open, his mind is open, his heart is open, so why not his hands? Why not ours? Instead, 'Open your palms,' the speaker commands.  Prepare to receive everything, and so you shall.

"Trouble the Water is an auspicious debut, a deep and resonant volume which nurses wonder in the face of sorrow and anger, wonder in the presence of loss. Here we follow a speaker who proclaims early on,'my heart swims / in gladness at the changeable world.' I want to keep these words as a credo, recite them often. I want to receive the world this way every day."

According to Pank, "Austin tackles the difficult task of being both hauntingly amusing and utterly serious, making the reader feel hope and joy and sorrow all at once. He makes us rethink old assumptions and reminds us that we have the power to change what we think we know. Religion can evolve to fit today’s society. Love is complicated. Race is too. In the end, though, we’re all essentially the same, just people trying to live our lives free from fear.

"Derrick Austin’s stunning debut, Trouble the Water, gives readers unique insight on what it means to be a queer, black man in today’s world. He navigates the complicated worlds of race, sexuality, and religion with such fearlessness that we as readers can’t turn away even if we wanted to.  . . . Austin is an important voice in poetry. His book comes at a time when it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the social injustices these communities face. Trouble the Water is not just the title of Austin’s book; it is a command. The only question now is whether or not we will listen."

Click here to read the full Rumpus review.
Click here to read the full Pank review.

Trouble the Water is is available now at the BOA Bookstore.


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