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Alpha Zulu
Gary Copeland Lilley
$14.00 paperback
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Alpha Zulu
Gary Copeland Lilley

Alpha—the beginning; the first letter of the military alphabet; the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy; being the most prominent, talented, or aggressive person in a group. Zulu—tribe; a member of the Negroid people of eastern South Africa; a Social Aid and Pleasure Club in New Orleans; an adjective to describe the language, customs, etc., of the Zulu people. Alpha Zulu is a venture into African American storytelling; it is a blurring of secular and sacred, the tavern and the church, the fall and the ascension of the individual, the beautiful and the terrible, and the humanity found in the twist of the street and the turn of the road.

The people in the poems—the narrators and the subjects—tell the stories. The details and images locate each poem at the crossroad of ordinary people with extraordinary, edgy, and universal situations, and their responses are spiritual and street-wise. The lyricism of the line supplies a subtle blues and jazz as the underscore for a very particular community. Narrators and personas give perspectives of place and time, placing the poems firmly in the continuum of African culture in America.

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For Alpha Zulu, Gary Copeland Lilley

"Lilley's power comes partly from his sound: syncopated, densely compacted, defiantly resigned... Lilley's bleak humor, his specialty forms, even his touch of Gullah, are his own."—Believer  Read the full review here.

"This book does not merely point to, but is an actual manifestation of the blues; it does not merely gesture toward, but actually manifests a milieu... Lilley demonstrates particular mastery of a compact and self-sufficient form, where every fine enjambment is a well-greased gear, every pause a cog, every right word another screw helping to hold it all together."—Harvard Review

"(Lilley's) verse brings beauty to the almost-failed world it creates."—Rain Taxi  Read the full review here.

"Now that I've read ALPHA ZULU three times, I like it enough to know I'll be reading it at least three more times. Don't ask me to explain, but when I first saw the collection title, I thought it was going to be "about" roots in Africa. As far as I can tell, it's not... but Alpha and Zulu are the beginning and ending characters of the military and police verbal symbols to express the alphabet as certainly as possible in confused communication situations. And that is what a decent poem often does: takes us into confusion and calmly lays out the bones, the lines, the certainties."Beth Kannel, Kingdom Books, Mysteries & Poetry, 2009

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