Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The New Testament” as Want to Read:
The New Testament
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The New Testament

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  983 ratings  ·  113 reviews
In The New Testament, Jericho Brown continues his tender examination of race, masculinity, and sexuality. These poems bear witness to survival in the face of brutality, while also elegizing two brothers haunted by shame, two lovers hounded by death, and an America wounded by war and numbered by religion. Brown summons myth, fable, and fairytale not to merely revise the Bib ...more
Paperback, 73 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Copper Canyon Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The New Testament, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The New Testament

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  983 ratings  ·  113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The New Testament
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful poetry. Brown does lovely things with cadence. You can feel these poems in the face of your chest.
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
These are poems both harrowing and luminous as the transfigured body, a reshaping of the difficult experiences of living into holy texts.

"We wrote our own Bible
And got thrown out of church"

Brown writes of the soul-making conversation with God and the weaknesses and failings of humankind, but this is not a book of moral instruction or redemption. Rather, it is the chronicle of human passion and an illuminated journey through pain and joy.

So much of what is written as poetry can feel frivolous
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another one read thanks to the poetry class I'm taking. The New Testament is going to fester; I can already tell. I didn't go on the underlining spree I usually do, choosing instead to circle entire poems, or draw stars on top of pages to come back to. I'm definitely looking forward to discussing this one in class.

Oh, and you're welcome:

"One of the seventeen times the Supremes appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, they sang 'You Can't Hurry Love' wearing earrings that weighed close to what Diana Ros
Callum McLaughlin
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, queer-rep
The New Testament features one of the best opening poems I’ve encountered in a collection. It was the strength of this alone that convinced me to pick up the book, and though none of the other poems quite reached the dizzy heights of the first, I’m delighted to have discovered Brown’s work. Drawing on mythology, fairy tales, and Bible stories to comment on queerness, race, masculinity, and family, Brown’s use of language and imagery is bold and evocative. The poems I connected with on a personal ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Jericho Brown writes poetry for the heart, y'all. And this may be one of the greatest openings for a book of poems:

"I don't remember how I hurt myself / The pain mine / Long enough for me / To lose the wound that invented it."

Brown's personal work about masculinity and how men love (or fail to love) is one to linger on, revisit, read aloud and listen to. The title is very apt considering the way he raises the personal to Biblical proportions.

Then hop over to the @onbeing podcast and listen to h
Betty Asma
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hope to read some more poetry books written by this author. His work came to my attention, browsing at a Best-Of-2019 list. This collection The New Testament from 2014 is a taste of what may be available to read in his other writings. One theme here considers his identity as a son, brother, lover, and other designated labels in human interactions. How is he different from those people whom he describes through their actions and beliefs and their expectations about him. ...more
Chris Roberts
Aug 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
The soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever" plays,
while we are murdered,
as God writhes in the beaten dust.

To the magnificent, so-called Deities,
offer up profane prayer and praise.

Executioner as God complex,
the convicted murderer put to death in false-real-time,
the process repeated until surreal time is realized.

God didn't hear her supplications
or any other woman, He is a misogynist God,
let us gather and burn silently.

Chris Roberts, God Ever(y) the Days
Areeb Ahmad (Bankrupt_Bookworm)
"Say the shame I see inching like steam
Along the streets will never stop
Beneath the doors of this bedroom,
And if it does, if we dare to breathe,
Tell me that though the world ends us,
Lover, it cannot end our love
Of narrative. Don't you have a story
For me?—like the one you tell
With fingers over my lips to keep me
From sighing when—before the queen
Is kidnapped—the prince bows
To the enemy, handing over the horn
Of his favourite unicorn like those men
Brought, bought, and whipped until
They accepted thei
Tom Walsh
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am astounded. Usually, the poetry I've read is highly pensive, languorous, moody or scenic. This author's bluntness of blood and death is striking, and uniquely so. The volume will send you back to "the good book" to get an idea of the poem's foundation, but don't be fooled: there's nothing sacred or religious about his interpretation. The poet's hand is guided, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the demons who wrack his soul. What he does with that connection is a bit scary, definitely physical w ...more
Lee Razer
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spoke as a child.
I even had a child's disease. I ran
From the Doberman like all children
On my street, but old men called me
Special. The Doberman caught up,
Chewed my right knee. Limp now
In two places, I carried a child's Bible
Like a football under the arm that didn't
Ache. I was never alone. I owned
My brother's shame of me. I loved
The words thou and thee. Both meant
My tongue in front of my teeth.
Both meant a someone speaking to me.
So what if I itched. So wha
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
My review appears in issue 5 of Glint Literary Journal:
T.L. Cooper
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The New Testament by Jericho Brown surprised me with its vivid starkness and unrelenting honesty. As I read Brown's poems, I felt visceral reactions from my head to my toes. I wanted to reach out and comfort the inhabitants of his poems at times and at others I felt tempted to give them a good shake. Brown's lyrical prose jumped off the page and created images that felt at once irreverent and holy. The New Testament certainly gives its own testimony to the life and culture that Brown knows and u ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finally read this whole collection, after having taught a few of the poems in it—“N’Em” always goes over incredibly well with students. The collection as a whole is beautiful and poignant—great stuff.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best poems i've read "about" Christianity since Cullen. I say "about" because this is such an expansive collection that discusses the Black body, Christianity, the importance of place, the queer experience, and so much more. Cannot recommend enough. Also, the painting on the cover is STUNNING. ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2020, 2020-poetry
Greg Bem
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Succinct, powerful, metaphoric. Thoroughly from cover to cover. A strong read for Christmas Day.
Gonzalo Urrutia
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The tone of this book was sweet, sexy and compelling, but I found the perspective didn't resonate with me, and it made me feel unattached to the poems despite the lyrical beauty. ...more
All My Friends  Are Fictional
"I go to my pocket
For change. One nickel
Fails me, so I find
Another, dead man
At my finger, monument
Against my thumb. Take,
For instance, our love."
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Extraordinary poems, remarkably vulnerable and righteous.
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Apex highlights from a myriad of notes:

".... I cannot locate the origin
Of slaughter, but I know
How my own feels, that I live with it
And sometimes use it
To get the living done,
Because I am what gladiators call
A man in love—love
Being any reminder we survived."


"Lover. Fruit licker. Mound
Maker. Quiet. I can predict
An earthquake. I can cook
A rose. I’m first to kill
A weed. The collards
Should come quick this year.
The beans may be lean.
I plant seeds and wait
All winter to eat. Some
Stacey Jones
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I fell a little in love with Jericho Brown when he read at my university (University of Central Arkansas) when I was finishing up my MFA in creative writing. He was riveting with his energy, wit, enthusiasm, compassion, empathy, humor and humility. This book is just like that, only with the joy of sounds and the verve of distilled questioning of injustice, with the faint timbres of acceptance of the pain of the past.

It feels disingenuous of me to review such a masterful work, but I will share m
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I gotta say I really enjoyed cracking open my bible, which I haven't read in years, to check out the particular verses to which some of the poems refer. "Romans 12:1" is my favorite of the bible verse group. "Homeland" rings painfully true. "The Rest We Deserve" is nicely contained and funny.

These poems in particular contain "zinger" lines that stunned me in their honesty and/or imagery:

"Another Elegy (I want to relax, but it's April)"
"Another Elegy (This is what our dying looks like)"
Derrick Carr
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, poc
The poems in this book are beautiful and rending. They're rich and vivid and so full of meaning and feeling. My reading was colored by a friend whose intellect and poetry I really respect saying "The poems are beautiful individually, but it doesn't cohere as a book." Essentially, that with this the whole did not become greater than the sum of its parts.

Wholly possible I missed critical themes, but I agree with that assessment. This didn't jump out as a collection to me. But my god are the parts
Jay Moran
One of the best poetry collections I've ever read, Jericho Brown is a wonderful voice that I am so excited about. Discussing race, religion, sexuality, and gender, The New Testament is a stunning piece that I can't say anything about without getting highly emotional. Please just read it. Jericho Brown is a poetic genius--what more can I say? Favourite poems include Coliseum, Willing to Pay, To Be Seen, Paradise and Labor. It's just something else. ...more
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant book by an incredibly talented poet.
Maughn Gregory
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I am in unlegislated love with a man bound / To grab for me when he sleeps. Take my right hand, / The one that wakes him, the one I use to swear--" (p. 60) ...more
Grant Swanson
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Haunting. Raw. Beautiful. Prophetic.
Bethany Fitts
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Langston Blue

“O Blood of the River of songs,
O songs of the River of Blood,”
Let me lie down. Let my words

Lie sound in the mouths of men
Repeating invocations pure
And perfect as a moan

That mounts in the mouth of Bessie Smith.
Blues for the angels kicked out
Of heaven. Blues for the angels

Who miss them still. Blues
For my people and what water
They know. O weary drinkers

Drinking from the bloody river,
Why go to heaven with Harlem
So close? Why sing of rivers

With fathers of our own to miss?
Matt T
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Late to Jericho Brown, first heard of him as the foreword writer to last year’s ‘Her mouth as souvenir’ from Heather June Gibbons. In these poems, Brown raises up the inextricable physical and mental torments of love into a defiant credo, rejoicing in his own stoic resilience, and grateful for those who gave him a chance to prove it. When he takes on the persona of a younger brother who only wants what’s best for his older siblings, whether through blood or love, he does so without being sentime ...more
D.A. Gray
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poets
Powerful collection. Brown has written a road map to dealing with doubt when all the old accepted truths turn out not to help.

"This is what our dying looks like.
You believe in the sun. I believe
I can't love you. Always be closing,
Said our favorite professor before
He let the gun go off in his mouth.
I turned 29 the way any man turns
In his sleep, unaware of the earth
Moving beneath him, its plates in
Their places, a dated disagreement.
Bore me, unless I get a mountain view,
A room in which my
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Prelude to Bruise
  • Black Movie
  • Homie
  • Ordinary Beast
  • When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
  • When My Brother Was an Aztec
  • Don't Call Us Dead
  • Not Here
  • Postcolonial Love Poem
  • Eye Level: Poems
  • Guillotine: Poems
  • [insert] boy
  • Nature Poem
  • Sharks in the Rivers
  • Deaf Republic
  • Night Sky with Exit Wounds
  • The Carrying: Poems
  • Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers
See similar books…
LGBT > Gay
See top shelves…
Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, the Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and two travel fellowships to ...more

News & Interviews

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
10 likes · 2 comments
“Hurt by me, they will not call me
Brother. Hear me coming,
And they cross their legs. As men
Are wont to hate women,
As women are taught to hate
Themselves, they hate a woman
They smell in me, every muscle
Of her body clenched”
“I don't remember how I hurt myself,
The pain mine
Long enough for me
To lose the wound that invented it”
More quotes…