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The New Testament

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  652 ratings  ·  78 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 (first published September 9th 2014)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  652 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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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 friv
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
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 level hi ...more
Prince Bush
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The New Testament is full of biblical references that connect with things that American society has named as unholy in its history: black skin and homosexuality. Jericho Brown claims his God as he should; and every gay black man, while reading this, may find themselves doing the same. This book is a heart condition. It is an obsession. It is doing what the church ought to do.
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 an/>"I
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 Day
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
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.
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 ou
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant book by an incredibly talented poet.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Haunting. Raw. Beautiful. Prophetic.
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)
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

Matthew Travers
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
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.
Joseph Crupper
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took my time with this collection and I’m very glad that I did so. There is a lot to unpack, and the sociology of the poetry is stuff that really interests me.

I definitely have the ability to critique poetry, but I’m not about to pretend I have the authority tear this collection apart and put its meaning together in my own words. Brown’s work is so closely tied to issues of race, which I enjoyed, and I think that it must have done a good job imparting it’s message and moving me, a
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jericho Brown’s ‘The New Testament’, first published in the US in 2014 and only just now published in the UK. This is a collection of poems that warrants the outpouring of love and worship it’s received. Ceaselessly clever in its engagement with the biblical and political, and how these spheres intersect with each other and with the personal and the social, Brown is sparse in his language and construction, so that each poem feels like the shortest slap in the face or kiss on the nape of your nec ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-2019
Brown's title is an open demand for a new witness, new gospels for gay black men, tender and devastating. Authorities of all stripes are engaged and undermined for the central themes of this body, in this time, with this person. The revelations are hard-won, through illness and violence, and yet there is always another possibility - many of the poems directly address the reader: "Forgive me for taking the tone of the preacher"; "Say I never was a waiter. Say I never worked / retail..." The reade ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is a practice. Like medicine."

"Nobody in this nation feels safe, and I'm still a reason why."

"Nothing we erect is our own."

"I eat with humans who think any book full of black characters is about race."

"Once, long ago, in a land I cannot name,
My love and my brother both knocked
At my door like wind in an early winter."

"And this is North America, for God's sake, treat
Me like it, like I looked at you that able
Jennifer Nicholson
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Jericho Brown has pieces of poetry that are excellent, it's ashame that as a person I was put off by him. He's an educator too.

My interactions with him on social media, I found him not to be a humble or kind person. He was rather nasty, placed himself on a pedestal and was a very angry person. I took the book out of the library. I wouldn't support him with a purchase, there are other poets that are deserving of belonging in my personal library.
Leanne  Talavera
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jericho Brown tells a story beautifully in verse with just the right balance of abstraction and directness. There is so much the speaker grapples with in life, from race to love to family, and the poems take on so much more depth when you're aware of the religious motifs Brown incorporates. I felt the poet set up a lot of central tension throughout his poetry that gave it such a strong sense of inner conflict. My first book by him, and definitely not the last!
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Finished: 28.04.2019
Genre: poetry
Rating: A++++++
#PoetryMonth April 2019

I loved Brown’s explanation how he got to love poetry:
” My mother would drop me off at the library because
…she could not afford childcare…the best thing that happened to me!”

My Thoughts

Shaina Clingempeel
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoy (each) "Another Elegy," "Labor," "Heart Conditions," "Hustle," etc. What a beautiful poet.
-"I eat with humans who think any book full of black characters is about race. A book of white characters examines insanity- but never in prison."
And "What the Holy do."
-"With a sheet, I covered the screen. That's what the holy do to the body after shutting its eyes."
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jericho Brown's book about male-male love and his life experiences always make me cry -- in a good way; he knows how to put words side-by-side like a seer or someone with extra-terrestrial powers. His poetry gets into the bone marrow somehow and stays there. Love his work, and this book is no exception!
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
i've spent the last hundred years looking for this one and finally found it today. so, you know. i'm pretty thrilled about it.

my favorites are:
- heartland
- langston's blues
- willing to pay
- make-believe
- at the end of hell
- heart condition

i'm really really really excited to read please. i'll make sure to go on a hunt for a physical copy of it when i'm in canada.
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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
“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…