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Karisma Price’s stunning debut collection is an extended meditation on Blackness, on family, on loss. Anchored in New Orleans and New York City, these poems braid personal and public histories into a cultural reckoning of past and present. James Booker speaks to Ringo Starr, a phone “Autocorrects ‘Nigga’ to Night’,” If Beale Street Could Talk is recast with characters from The Odyssey. In these pages there is grief, there is absence, there is violence—“We know that mostly everything around us / is measured in blood.”—but there is also immense love and truth. Karisma Price has created a serious masterpiece, a book “so dark you have no other option but to call it / precious.”

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Karisma Price speaks with a wink, a sigh, a knitted brow when she says she’s always so serious. She speaks as someone raised on a gumbo of James Baldwin and James Booker, Buckjumping and Brooklyn. She speaks as your phone’s autocorrect, your remixed song lyrics, your friendly neighborhood fortune teller. Price speaks directly to and for you while speaking distinctly for herself. These are the masterful portraits, mercurial testimonies, and verbal inventions of our imminent poet of the new school/south, the next generation. I’m Always so Serious is brilliant.”  

—Terrance Hayes, winner of the National Book Award for Lighthead

"Ambitious, assured, and formally inventive, I’m Always So Serious dazzles with intelligence and heart. Karisma Price is a major talent.”

—Deborah Landau, author of Soft Targets

"There are poetry collections and then there are poetry collections. I’m Always so Serious, Karisma Price’s striking debut, is the latter. If you’re a poet, you’ll wish you would’ve written ‘God watches me through a viewfinder whispering, It’ll be worse next time. It’ll be your mother.’ If you’re a reader, you’ll wonder, ‘how did she know “we are as lonely as every room/without a piano”’? I’m both a writer and reader of poems, and so am doubly floored. Price has written one hell of a first book." 

—Nicole Sealey, author of Ordinary Beast

"Karisma Price has given us a phenomenal collection—inventive, exhilarating, and crackling with honesty—that is deeply worth our time and attention. But the real magic of I'm Always so Serious is its exquisite balance of tough questions with gorgeous pockets of hope. A breathtaking debut." 

—Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins 

"A book that navigates several locales and mythologies: Greek, New Orleans, and New York. Price is a technician of the intimate and the nuanced. She depicts the streets with as much genius as she revels within the fractured realm of the remembered. Poetry lovers should rejoice at the breathtaking inventiveness to be found on each page. I'm Always So Serious heralds the arrival of a brilliant voice that has come to dissect, reinterpret, and clarify. And this book will be dissected and paid homage to. Serious is a book of poetry that begs to be reread after the last page is turned. Gift Serious to your friends. They will thank you."

—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You

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