Throwing the Crown
About the Book
“His themes are easily sentimental. . . . There’s a tension in the work that I just find incredibly fresh.” —Gregory Pardlo, judge of the 2018 Honickman First Book Award
Winner of the prestigious Honickman First Book Award from the American Poetry Review, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Gregory Pardlo, Throwing the Crown describes a boyhood on the edge. Set in a Chicago neighborhood dominated by gang life, Saenz sets the sweetness and vulnerability of youth against the cold reality of a gun pressed against a forehead. Full of accelerative sound—tight rhymes and short, percussive lines—these poems follow a fast-paced trajectory from danger to survival, pausing to acknowledge the beauty and humor in the details along the way.
From “Blue Line Incident”:
. . . the boys of 15th and 51st, I say,
they’re my boys, my friends.
I was fishing for a life-
saver & he took, hooked him in
& had him say goodbye like we was boys
& shit when really I should’ve
gutted that fuck w/the tip
of my blue ballpoint.
Jacob Saenz was born in Chicago and raised in Cicero, Illinois. His poetry has been anthologized in The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. A CantoMundo fellow, he has been the recipient of a Letras Latinas Residency and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. He serves as an associate editor for RHINO.