Individual Author Record
Name: Jeffery Renard AllenPen Name: None Genre: Poetry Born: Chicago Sites:
Illinois ConnectionAllen was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Biographical and Professional InformationJeffery Renard Allen is a poet, essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Raised on the south side of Chicago, he now lives in New York and teaches at Queens College and in the writing program at the New School.
- Harbors and Spirits, Moyer Bell, 1999
- Rails Under My Back, Harvest Books, 2000
- Stellar Places, Asphodel Press, 2007
- Holding Pattern, Graywolf Press, 2008
- Song of the Shank, Graywolf Press, 2014
Titles At Your Library
Harbors and Spirits
ISBN: 155921208X Asphodel Press. 1999 Poet, novelist and critic, Jeffery Renard Allen brings a number of characteristics to his first collection of poems. He adapts jazz and blues forms to lyric poetry and uses a variety of cultural sources to draw together materials that exist in a shared mythology. The result has the directness of an African-American Homeric hymn. Rich in musicality, Allen's work offers an extra-ordinary breadth of reference and discovery.
Rails Under My Back
ISBN: 0374246262 Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2000
An astonishing debut novel, exploring the bonds, boundaries, and bondage of an African American family.
Rails Under My Back is a daring work of art that reveals its family theme in a stunning depiction of its paradoxically opposite: abandonment.
In this multifaceted, brilliantly colored, intensely musical novel, Jeffery Renard Allen tracks the interwoven lives of two brothers, Lucius and John Jones, who are married to two sisters, Gracie and Sheila McShan. For them, their parents, and their children, life is always full of departures someone is always fleeing town and leaving the remaining family to suffer the often dramatic, sometimes tragic consequences. The multiple effects of the comings and goings are devastating: these are the almost mythic expression of the African American experience during the past half-century.
Rails Under My Back ranges, as the characters do, from the City, which is somewhat like both New York and Chicago, to Memphis, to the West, and to many "inner" and "outer" locales. One image that holds the family together is that of the railroads taking them from place to place-from the South to the North, from their living to their working quarters, from one form of bondage or freedom to another. The McShans and the Joneses somehow prevail, in their bigger-than-life way, and their story has extraordinary literary, religious, and historical power. Allen's voice is unforgettable.
ISBN: 155921385X Asphodel Press. 2007 Collected poems of Jeffery Renard Allen.
Holding Pattern: Stories
ISBN: 1555975097 Graywolf Press. 2008
The world of Jeffery Renard Allen's stunning short-story collection is a place like no other. A recognizable city, certainly, but one in which a man might sprout wings or copper pennies might fall from the skies onto your head. Yet these are no fairy tales. The hostility, the hurt, is all too human.
The protagonists circle each other with steely determination: a grandson taunts his grandmother, determined to expose her secret pastfor years, a sister tries to keep a menacing neighbor away from her brother and in the local police station, an officer and prisoner try to break each other's resolve.
In all the stories, Allen calibrates the mounting tension with exquisite timing, in mesmerizing prose that has won him comparisons with Joyce and Faulkner. Holding Pattern is a captivating collection by a prodigiously talented writer.
Song of the Shank: A Novel
ISBN: 1555976808 Graywolf Press. 2014
A contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era