Welcome back, Enzo Silon Surin!

This month we are celebrating the titles that we’ve acquired over the past twelve months. These manuscripts came to us through our open reading periods. Today we bring you Enzo Silon Surin, whose forthcoming book American Scapegoat will be published next spring. This will be Enzo’s second book with Black Lawrence Press.

Have a manuscript you think we’d like? During our June 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), anthology proposals, and translations from German. 



The Author

Enzo Silon Surin is a Haitian-born award-winning author, poet, educator, publisher, and social advocate. He is the author of three collections of poetry, including When My Body Was A Clinched Fist (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), winner of the 21st Annual Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry, and the chapbook, A Letter of Resignation: An American Libretto (Central Square Press, 2017). He is co-editor of Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience (Cherry Castle Publishing, 2022), and the recipient of a Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation, a PEN New England Discovery Award (Celebrated New Voice in Poetry) and Denis Diderot [A-i-R] Grant as an Artist-in-Residence at Chateau d’Orquevaux in Orquevaux, France. Surin’s work gives voice to experiences that take place in what he calls “broken spaces” and has been featured in numerous publications including by the Poetry Foundation and in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets. 

Their poems were recently commissioned by the Boston Opera Collaborative for a project titled “Love in the Time of…” which is based on the Robert Schumann’s masterpiece song cycle Dichterliebe and “dwells on the possibility and impossibility of love amidst all the promise, the turmoil, the wonder and the heartache of the 21st century.” Their 10-minute play “Last Train” was adapted as a 10-minute opera and is scheduled for production in 2023. 

Surin teaches creative writing and literature at Bunker Hill Community College and is also Founding Editor and Publisher at Central Square Press and the President/Executive Director at the Faraday Publishing Company, Inc, a nonprofit literary services and social advocacy organization.


Selections from American Scapegoat


How to Craft an American Scapegoat

make him a young boy in a project yard
make his pants sag like a deferred dream
make his momma not his real momma, his
daddy, ghost. fill his eyes & mouth with bias
so he resembles a child not like your child
but one blood-born and raised in a dung-sack
nation. make his hands rebel against the Union
by putting a pistol in his hands, christen him:
militant or desperado, someone who preys
on his neighbors, brothers, sisters and friends,
as a reaper who wants the chances that you
took. make him an aftermath or compilation
of fraught, dead things. make his house one
created dangerously with memories & hearsay
about huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
poster him the tired-poor—a colossus of ails and
depredation. make him Lazarus. make him Black.

(First published in  Spoon River Poetry Review, Fall 2021)

In the Country of Chagrins and Mortuaries

Every day I wake up & get dressed for my own funeral
and glance at the dead man arrayed in the mirror like
a clock, & the distance between rooms tries to reconcile
the news, & tying my shoes with a pair of trigger fingers
feels like this is it—what an omen would yield if it were
a member of the body & this body is not as beautiful as
the bodies from where you’re from, because this body
isn’t beautifully bodied where you’re from, though this
body is more beauty embodied where I am from—and
being best dressed in a pleasant smile does not mean
I won’t meet the worst of the world’s finest assassins
& it won’t mean a prowl car isn’t rehearsal for a hearse
& it won’t mean I will know what to make of screaming
white boys in cars and their bodies bungling in and out
of bars & who often tell police to fuckoff & live, & brag
—& habitually wake solely in the custody of a hangover.

(First published in Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience, Cherry Castle Publishing, 2022)


You are a speck
azure & dust
in a galaxy
called potential

potential to bust
in that what have
you done for me
lately milky way

weight of the wait
says stop caring
before the world
does—in that you

are not going to
amount to anything
worth remembering
like a rogue planet

immigrant & black
second born, brother
of your father’s son, a
speck through the lens

of ephemeral gazes &
constant stares—you
master constellations
like mazes—their eyes

heralding blue planets
& others filled with
oceans—in awe
of the possibilities—

galaxies light years
away—while at home
cities become oceans &
black moons become dust

& every day something
threatens to launch you
into the interstellar space
of your very own body.  

(First published in Black Immigrants in the United States: Essays on the Politics of Race, Language, and Voice, Peter Lang Inc., 2020)