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ISBN: 978-1-62557-808-2
Categories Poetry


Publication Date: September 2020


Watch Abayomi Animashaun read from Seahorses for the Black Lawrence Press Virtual Reading Series


Abayomi Animashaun writes poignantly about the bittersweet experience of immigrants and refugees, the Others in the “new paradise” that is America. For many, this land of opportunity has become a land of hostility, where survival means wearing a “demure smile [that]// Signals nothing/ Of the old city within.” But sometimes even this mask cannot guarantee inclusion or security. Fortified by insight and imagination, the poems in Seahorses mine those moments of injustice in order to find clarity about the troubling time we live in.

— Rigoberto González

The poems in Seahorses are honed as axe blades, and they deliver a witnessing blow, telling of detainment camps, exile, loss, and a silence “worn/As coat and/Top hat.//Sorrow tucked/In the left/Breast pocket.” Animashaun’s speakers are fluid, at times reprehensible, at other times eliciting deep compassion, testifying to the life of the “sole/Black immigrant/On the cul-de-sac.” The tone of this collection is by turns apocalyptic and tender, and at times a playfulness appears, as when poems turn to Wonderland, and Oz, and a Lorca-like approach to the image emerges—a dream “Of goats painting/their hooves green,” and “Night/With a thousand yellow lights/Braids its hair/And bathes with waters/From dark village wells.” Seahorses is beautiful, disturbing, and sublime.

— Diane Seuss

Seahorses by Abayomi Animashaun is the most elegant collection I’ve read in a long time. Its imagery and music are so precise, so distilled and pleasurable it gave me shivers. Here everything is quietly alive, “Night / With a thousand yellow lights / Braids its hair // And bathes with waters / From dark village wells”, and people live at the intersection of the body-spirit’s labors and impermanence. These poems are the prayers you need, where “Bees talk dirty / To poplar trees,”—so perhaps you should read them on your knees, under the moon, clothing optional.

— Sun Yung Shin

About the Author

Abayomi Animashaun

Abayomi Animashaun is an immigrant from Nigeria. He has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a PhD from the University of Kansas. His poems have appeared in such print and online journals as Poetry Ireland ReviewDiode, TriQuarterly, The Cortland ReviewAfrican American ReviewThe Adirondack Review, Ruminate Magazine, and Versedaily. A winner of the Hudson Prize and a recipient of a grant from the International Center for Writing and Translation, Animashaun is the author of three poetry collections, SeahorsesSailing for Ithaca, and The Giving of Pears, and editor of three anthologies, Far Villages: Welcomes Essays for New and Beginner PoetsOthers Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America, and Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa (edited with Spectra, Tatenda Muranda, Irwin Iradunkunda, and Timothy Kimutai)Abayomi Animashaun is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and a poetry editor at The Comstock Review. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin with his wife and children.

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