Welcome, Enzo Silon Surin!

This month we are celebrating the titles that we’ve acquired during 2018. These manuscripts came to us through our open reading periods. Today we bring you Enzo Silon Surin, author of the poetry collection When My Body Was A Clinched Fist, which will be published in the summer of 2020.
Have a manuscript you think we’d like? During our November Open Reading Period we are looking for poetry (chapbooks and full-length collections), short fiction (again, both chapbooks and full-length collections), novels, novellas, nonfiction (CNF, biography, cultural studies) and translations from German. Also, our Big Moose Prize for the novel is currently open to early bird submissions.

The Author

Enzo Silon Surin, Haitian-born poet, educator, publisher and social advocate, is the author of two chapbooks, A Letter of Resignation: An American Libretto (2017) and Higher Ground (2006). He is recipient of a Brother Thomas Fellowship from The Boston Foundation and is a PEN New England Celebrated New Voice in Poetry. Surin’s work gives voice to experiences that take place in what he calls “broken spaces” and has appeared in numerous publications. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and is an Associate Professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College and founding editor and publisher at Central Square Press.

On writing When My Body Was A Clinched Fist

When My Body Was A Clinched Fist is a book that addresses the effects of social violence on a young boy’s mind and the consequent physical toll it takes on his body. At the heart of the collection is the metamorphosis of trauma from different acts of violence, some witnessed firsthand, and the struggle to make sense of the world in its aftermath. Set in the borough of Queens, New York, each poem is unrelenting in its depiction of the body as a fist and a young boy’s decade-long clinch for survival.
The collection was written as a way of coming to terms with what was a very difficult decade of my childhood in Queens, New York, one that would follow me well into adulthood. I wanted to chronicle the experience of growing up in an environment prone to social violence, where a simple walk down the street could lead to serious, and at times, deadly predicaments. At the same time, I wanted to address the human element in each poem, the versions of ourselves that are created when faced with these predicaments and the sometimes detrimental effects of choosing not to participate in the violence. This book is a love letter to the people and city that raised me and to the little boy inside of me who survived it.


In A Fisted Universe
Would have thought we were trained
for the shots we took—fists tossed
into the blind bend of neck-n-shoulder
where truth held more misses than hits—
most of which was more show than blow.
Sometimes, as if on cue: a spot broke open
in the crowd amidst drawl and grimace—
and the withdrawn drew their card into
the dark matter of an ever after—triumph
or defeat, no one ever cried, as if the body
only attended to the tear and break and not
to tears. Most of these bouts, staged in empty
school lots—fists flaring their stellar remnants—
begat not one bona fide winner—fight within
as bitter as any in the ring. And the one
thing that always survived were lies told
about whose fists were hindmost—not
how easily hearts, under guard, went into
flip mode over a fresh pair of white sneakers,
and how some were eager to pledge homage to
a posse—didn’t matter the cause or if one really
believed in the push of fists over bodies—one day
you’d be next. And some years from this moment,
the sound of something breaking; some poor boy’s
plea, will awaken lessons learned in science class,
about sound travel in space—myths of how
one can witness the destruction of the world
without a single sound—how one can wail, wail,
wail, and no one’d be able to hear it. But you
know this to be claptrap—in space or back lot,
you can always hear the blare of your own ruin.
previously published in Jalada/Transition Magazine
Born to Triggers
Long before the recoil,
at the sound of gunfire
the body tucked and ran
as if the volleyed pre-text
of trauma already vetted
your legs—not certain of
the way—away or toward
the mass—the riot within
the riot within—you ran
until don’t run, they’ll shoot
you! interrupted the assault—
hard asphalt ‘gainst your feet.
You were nine and did not
know the body was capable
of such things on its own or
the catalog it would amass
in the nine subsequent years
when you’d surmise: some
days the body is a clinched fist,
at other times it is a doorknob
leading out and, there is no
such thing as a real shortcut
to the way back home—dis-
covering, when bullets or fists
come, one momentary hiding
after another—the first tuck
knuckling its way into the next.
 previously published in Interviewing the Caribbean