the space between men

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On sale Jan 14, 2025 | 2 Hours and 30 Minutes | 9780593947982
A poetic ethnography that creates and documents the vocabulary of the Southern Black queer experience, chosen as a National Poetry Series winner by Morgan Parker

"Willis’ poetic voice is brimming with personality and curiosity, as musical as it is philosophical, and the space between men is a formidable debut.” —Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé


These piercing, surprising poems look to familial history, rituals of faith, and the natural world to explore how the intersecting cultures of Blackness and queerness relate to each other. As the collection evolves, the reader is challenged and empowered to seek expansiveness in spaces that have not previously been excavated, reckon with the complexities of interpersonal relationships, and explore memory as a catalyst for self-determination. Mia S. Willis weaves together intergenerational knowledge and personal discovery—not only to define themselves but to articulate a communal identity that transcends language.
Advance praise for the space between men:

Boy and boi, Mia S. Willis reminds, are homophones. The same sound points toward both a present history of collective degradation and a present future of collective creativity. You can only tell the difference by the context of their utterance: who speaks, who is spoken, and under what conditions.  Among other things, Willis’s remarkable debut sets out to architect a usable grammar of black boihood, a sharable system of image/shape/sound in which the black boi might be knowable, but not too knowable—expressed, but never overdetermined. And, central to this project is the poet’s careful, loving attention to the pluripotency of language, the revisability of form, the ‘divinity in the becoming.’ This book is an offering for us who long to ‘exist unordered . . . the spark of potential between the flints.’” —Cameron Awkward-Rich, author of Dispatch

“Mia S. Willis’ powerful first collection, the space between men, represents a singular achievement in form and movement. This poetry is honest, vulnerable, and bare not to inform, expose, or exploit, but to liberate, embrace, and release. This release is a gift to us all—an opening toward a yet larger embrace. In holding these poems, we hold ourselves true.” —Samiya Bashir, author of Field Theories

“In this profound and evocative collection, Mia S. Willis commands each line with a dazzling attention to language—its failures and its gaps, its lyric potential and holy plainspokenness, its politics and cultural specificities—illuminating the spaces between and within all of us. Ranging from imagistic to cerebral, humorous to heartbreaking, these poems trace a journey to self-understanding and self-permission, exploring the inner and outer battles toward building a self—specifically, a Black, queer self—and learning to ‘not be afraid to birth yourself beautiful.’ Willis’ poetic voice is brimming with personality and curiosity, as musical as it is philosophical, and the space between men is a formidable debut.” —Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé
© Marcus Jackson
Mia S. Willis (they/them) is a poet, popular educator, and cultural historian from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their work, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has been featured by The SlowdownThe Shade JournalPalette PoetryThe Offingthe minnesota reviewhomology lit.NarrativeNortheast, and others. Willis has earned fellowships from Cave Canem, La Maison Baldwin, The Watering Hole, Lambda Literary, and Chashama’s ChaNorth. A two-time Best of the Net nominee, they are the author of monster house (Jai-Alai Books, 2019), the 2018 winner of Cave Canem’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize. View titles by Mia S. Willis

About

A poetic ethnography that creates and documents the vocabulary of the Southern Black queer experience, chosen as a National Poetry Series winner by Morgan Parker

"Willis’ poetic voice is brimming with personality and curiosity, as musical as it is philosophical, and the space between men is a formidable debut.” —Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé


These piercing, surprising poems look to familial history, rituals of faith, and the natural world to explore how the intersecting cultures of Blackness and queerness relate to each other. As the collection evolves, the reader is challenged and empowered to seek expansiveness in spaces that have not previously been excavated, reckon with the complexities of interpersonal relationships, and explore memory as a catalyst for self-determination. Mia S. Willis weaves together intergenerational knowledge and personal discovery—not only to define themselves but to articulate a communal identity that transcends language.

Reviews

Advance praise for the space between men:

Boy and boi, Mia S. Willis reminds, are homophones. The same sound points toward both a present history of collective degradation and a present future of collective creativity. You can only tell the difference by the context of their utterance: who speaks, who is spoken, and under what conditions.  Among other things, Willis’s remarkable debut sets out to architect a usable grammar of black boihood, a sharable system of image/shape/sound in which the black boi might be knowable, but not too knowable—expressed, but never overdetermined. And, central to this project is the poet’s careful, loving attention to the pluripotency of language, the revisability of form, the ‘divinity in the becoming.’ This book is an offering for us who long to ‘exist unordered . . . the spark of potential between the flints.’” —Cameron Awkward-Rich, author of Dispatch

“Mia S. Willis’ powerful first collection, the space between men, represents a singular achievement in form and movement. This poetry is honest, vulnerable, and bare not to inform, expose, or exploit, but to liberate, embrace, and release. This release is a gift to us all—an opening toward a yet larger embrace. In holding these poems, we hold ourselves true.” —Samiya Bashir, author of Field Theories

“In this profound and evocative collection, Mia S. Willis commands each line with a dazzling attention to language—its failures and its gaps, its lyric potential and holy plainspokenness, its politics and cultural specificities—illuminating the spaces between and within all of us. Ranging from imagistic to cerebral, humorous to heartbreaking, these poems trace a journey to self-understanding and self-permission, exploring the inner and outer battles toward building a self—specifically, a Black, queer self—and learning to ‘not be afraid to birth yourself beautiful.’ Willis’ poetic voice is brimming with personality and curiosity, as musical as it is philosophical, and the space between men is a formidable debut.” —Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé

Author

© Marcus Jackson
Mia S. Willis (they/them) is a poet, popular educator, and cultural historian from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their work, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has been featured by The SlowdownThe Shade JournalPalette PoetryThe Offingthe minnesota reviewhomology lit.NarrativeNortheast, and others. Willis has earned fellowships from Cave Canem, La Maison Baldwin, The Watering Hole, Lambda Literary, and Chashama’s ChaNorth. A two-time Best of the Net nominee, they are the author of monster house (Jai-Alai Books, 2019), the 2018 winner of Cave Canem’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize. View titles by Mia S. Willis