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The Poetry of Pugilism

Milwaukee’s Derrick Harriell returns to Woodland Pattern

Dec. 15, 2013
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Milwaukee-born author Derrick Harriell has packed a one-two punch into his second collection of pugilism poems entitled Ropes. This extensively researched set of poems, which brings to life the gritty and often viperous world of boxing, is arranged in four rounds and just like its title, each poem is infused with layers of meaning. This collection is boxing poetry but also historical poetry and race poetry. Fighters from Jack Johnson to Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson are made human through Harriell’s passionate poetry. Epic fights are recreated in lyrical stanzas that shed new light on boxing’s past. Spoken by boxers as well as witnesses to the world of boxing, this sophomore debut collection is filled with beautiful descriptions and expressive imagery. In Ropes, readers will be transported to the ring and will hear, see and taste the rough world of heavyweight boxing while also feeling its deep humanity.

Harriell was born and raised in Milwaukee and recently graduated with a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. He works as an assistant professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi. His first collection of poetry, Cotton, was published in 2010. Harriell is a two-time Pushcart Nominee whose poems have appeared in various anthologies and literary journals. Derrick Harriell will appear at Woodland Pattern Book Center on Thursday, Dec. 19, for a 7 p.m. reading and book release.


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