“Evie Shockley’s semiautomatic is an urgent, energized poetry giving voice to the pain at the intersection of racism and gender-based violence. These vibrant and musical poems turn rhetoric to poetry while questioning our ‘semiautomatic’ performance of daily life,” said Wesleyan University Press Director Suzanna Tamminen. “We are thrilled to see her work receive such a prestigious recognition.”
According to the Press’s website, semiautomatic “responds primarily to the twenty-first century’s inescapable evidence of the terms of black life—not so much new as newly visible. The poems trace a whole web of connections between the kinds of violence that affect people across the racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national, and linguistic boundaries that do and do not divide us. How do we protect our humanity, our ability to feel deeply and think freely, in the face of a seemingly endless onslaught of physical, social, and environmental abuses? Where do we find language to describe, process, and check the attacks and injuries we see and suffer? What actions can break us out of the soul-numbing cycle of emotions, moving through outrage, mourning, and despair, again and again? In poems that span fragment to narrative and quiz to constraint, from procedure to prose and sequence to song, semiautomatic culls past and present for guides to a hoped-for future.”
semiautomatic was also short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for 2018, along with Shane McCrae’s In the Language of My Captor from Wes Press. This year has seen several other accolades for Wes Press, including an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for McCrae, and Professor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse’s Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award.