Rest of US by Richard Hamilton
Richard Hamilton's debut collection, Rest of US, examines the ways race, class, and gender intersect to expand our notion of personhood and peopled responses to racism, human exploitation, violence, and trauma. It is a meditation on how one holds hurt, grows tired, weeps and breaks down, fights back, harnesses anger or seeks blood recompense for the atrocities. As a Black queer, gender non-conforming, disabled person whose spent much of his adult life as an itinerant worker in the service industry, indifferently housed, the collection takes seriously the shared struggle among a motley crew grappling with precarity and survival.
"Richard Hamilton’s Rest of US is a non-linear romp through American history, from the Haitian Revolution to Ferguson and beyond, filtered through the lens of a fiercely expansive Black consciousness. It’s a panoramic production that features not only presidents and famous athletes, slaves and lynching victims, but also the nameless racially oppressed, the poor and homeless and queer of our own time. Hamilton takes us on extended visits to a prison and a mental institution, the former in an extended sequence that includes acknowledged appropriations, the latter in a sestina that incorporates internal rhyme and lets us hear two musics at once. Hamilton’s shifty diction includes the official, the formal, the colloquial, the invented; his syntax ranges from extended prose sentences to short lines that focus on single words. Skewed sestinas and villanelles, anaphora and other repetitions, persona poems and ekphrastic poems: Hamilton’s linguistic and poetic toolboxes are as full as his historic one. The result can be dizzying, but you won’t regret joining the poet on this wild ride."
— Martha Collins, author of Because What Else Could I Do (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)
"Here is a fierce poet-prophet turning back the coat of many colors to reveal the inner stitchwork where the pain, the labor, the beauty and the real math is. Hamilton's poetry glows like a bright needle moving in History's dark, working the material of Blackness, queerness, exclusion and exploitation into resplendent, resistant shapes."
— Joyelle McSweeney, author of Toxicon and Arachne (Nightboat Books, 2020)
"The spectrum through which Hamilton splays a montage of images onto the page in Rest of US is impressively broad and textured with creative inquiry. The expansion and compression of lyric, the array of language choices coupled with poetic technique, all take the reader on an amazing journey. Hamilton is an excavator of truth who leaves no part of the poem unattended. These are the kind of poems that hum and echo, bringing you face to face with what has been hidden and/or denied. There is an aesthetic courage in Rest of US that makes this more than a poetry book, it is a poetic experience."
— Randall Horton, author of #289-128: Poems (The University Press of Kentucky, 2020)
Richard Hamilton was born in 1975 and grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey and Columbus, Georgia. A Cave Canem alumnus, his poetry has appeared in CONSEQUENCE magazine, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, Steel Toe Review, The Drunken Boat, and Cave Canem Anthologies edited by poets Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte. He is the recipient of fellowships from The Chatauqua Writers' Festival and The Vermont Studio Center. In 2020, he received the Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Award. He holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama and MA in Arts and Public Policy from New York University. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Locust Review (Interview)