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ISBN: 978-1-62557-050-5
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Categories Poetry

American Scapegoat

Publication Date: May 2023


American Scapegoat is a book of painstakingly honest and chilling poems about America’s neglectful relationship with its own history. At the core of this reluctance to frame the past in its proper context is the fraudulent and fraught mythology that Black people are what America needs to be protected from. This extremely damaging narrative has been prominently embedded within the socio-political framework of American culture and continues to play an inescapably significant role in the Black experience in America. This timely collection looks both to the past and the future, and fosters a deeply essential conversation about what it means to be Black and American in a democracy at war with itself and its humanity.


In America, choice’s always an illusion. And it always comes back to having to answer questions for which my body is never prepared.

Through his own distinctive path, Enzo Silon Surin bears witness to the complexities of the Black experience in America. These poems examine the hard edges and paradoxes as a way of illuminating them as he grapples with violence, injustice, masculinity, intimacy, and fatherhood. How does one locate themselves in this American landscape? American Scapegoat is a remarkable testament to the power of language, marked with intensity, radiance, and hope.

—January Gill O’Neil

The poems in American Scapegoat are not for the faint of heart. Wrapped masterfully in poetry’s artful tongue, they do not seek absolution nor do they apologize as the collection indicts American racism and its bloated, systemic injustices. Heightening the reader’s experience with a surgically precise interrogation of form in poems like “American Lexicon,” “Prelude,” and “American Witness,” Enzo Silon Surin writes against our fears and shines bright the hope we dare have for our sons.
—Frank X Walker

About the Author

Enzo Silon Surin

Enzo Silon Surin is a Haitian-born award-winning poet, author, educator, publisher and social advocate. He has taught, performed, and lectured on topics such as social justice, the immigrant experience, racial disparities, and gives voice to experiences that take place in what he calls “broken spaces”. He is the author of American Scapegoat (Black Lawrence Press, 2023) and When My Body Was A Clinched Fist (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), winner of the 21st Annual Massachusetts Book Awards. He is also the author of two chapbooks and co-editor of Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience (Cherry Castle Publishing, 2022). In American Scapegoat, his second full-length collection of poetry, he interrogates the socio-political framework of a democracy at war with itself and its humanity. Surin has been recognized and awarded support for his artistry and literary citizenship including by the New England Poetry Club and is the recipient of a Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation and a PEN New England Discovery Award. His poetry has been featured in numerous publications including by the Poetry Foundation and in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets and his librettos have been commissioned by the Boston Opera Collaborative and were adapted as part of a musical reimagining of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe song cycle. His short opera, “Last Train," debuted in January 2023 as part of a series of Opera Bites, eight 10-minute operas written by contemporary composers and librettists. Surin currently serves as Founding Editor & Publisher at Central Square Press and Founder/Executive Director at the Faraday Publishing Company, Inc., a nonprofit literary services and social advocacy organization.

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