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ISBN: 978-0-9970933-5-3
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Benefits of Doubt

Publication Date: September 2016


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Benefits of Doubt was originally published by Nomadic Press.

Cyrus Armajani’s debut poetry collection is borne of the worlds of public policy and public art. These are public poems, leaving room for readers to question, to doubt, and come to their own understandings. One cannot help but sense the caring hand, open mind, and desire for a world more just and democratic than the world we currently inhabit.


These poems are clean-crisp, and sharp-witted too. Armajani’s Benefits of Doubt is what you love about poetry—the distillation of experience that makes beauty come alive in the quotidian. These poems gift you with seeing anew. As we go about in a state of ‘not’—not paying attention—here is Armajani reminding us to ‘write from your inner cliff your inner mule not jumping,’ helping us to recognize that we are living our lives ‘as if there’s no end stop.’ The play of language continues on in that conversational tone that gives you the distinct feeling poetry is always with you. It is even found there in the ‘Dialogue’ of juveniles, breaking down the difference between robbing and stealing is that ‘robbing is when you go right up to someone and say / gimme all you got.’ And there is no doubt, for this collection, Armajani has emptied out his pockets for you.
Arisa White

In Benefits of Doubt, we meet a mind preternaturally alert to the subtlest congress of meanings that shift beneath the utterances of daily speech and the experiences of daily life. Cyrus Armajani follows each movement with alarming skill, and in so doing he exposes to us what vitalizes the spectrum of doubt that shapes how we perceive the world we inhabit. The text is kaleidoscopic in its ranging from the candid to the contrived, from the authentic to the absurd. Yet when we take in the whole of the work, we realize a complex, even beguiling glimpse of the revelatory.
Rusty Morrison

Cyrus Armajani’s poetry follows radio waves that stretch across the world; it sketches a precise cartography of three, four, even five dimensions as it reflects the decidedly uncertain in the empirical. Open these pages to find an atlas of practical advice for a surreal navigation of what human have made of this world. His is an odd theology that squats smack in the silences of dialectical materialism.
Sharon Coleman

About the Author

Cyrus Armajani

Cyrus Armajani teaches reading and creative writing to youth who are incarcerated. He is a Jefferson Award recipient for his literacy work in the juvenile justice system and a Pushcart nominee. His poems have appeared in Matter: A Journal of Political Poetry and Commentary, Poetry Magazine, RHINO 2018 and Sparkle and Blink, among other publications. Benefits of Doubt (Nomadic Press/Black Lawrence Press) is his first book. Cyrus is Iranian-American and lives in Oakland, California with his wife and two sons.

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