"Brian Gilmore's We Didn't Know Any Gangsters weds the wily clarity of Lucille Clifton to the cultural acuity of James Baldwin. "Res ipsa loquitur" ("The thing speaks for itself"), Gilmore says in one poem, recasting William Carlos Williams' dictum: "no ideas but in things," as a statement of self-determination and witness. Stereotypes, and clichés about African-American life are obliterated by poems that are vibrant, distinct and unequivocally American. Political, personal, exceptional—this is a remarkable book about what it means to be us."
-Terrance Hayes, 2010 National Book Award Winner
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