I’m made of murderers I’m made
Of nobodies and immigrants and the poor
and a whole / Family the mother’s
liver and her lungs
In The Gilded Auction Block, the acclaimed poet Shane McCrae considers the present moment in America on its own terms as well as for what it says about the American project and Americans themselves. In the book’s four sections, McCrae alternately responds directly to Donald Trump and contextualizes him historically and personally, exploding the illusions of freedom of both black and white Americans. A moving, incisive, and frightening exploration of both the legacy and the current state of white supremacy in this country, The Gilded Auction Block is a book about the present that reaches into the past and stretches toward the future.
“Shane McCrae is a shrewd composer of American stories . . . He is a prospector for speech rhythms, collecting his material wherever he can. But American attics are full of old boxes of diaries and letters; and testimony, no matter how arresting, is not itself poetry. What makes McCrae’s compositions so ingenious are their marvels of prosody and form, learned from the English Renaissance poems that he read in libraries when he was just starting out. The result is beautifully up-to-date, old-fashioned work, where the dignity of English meters meets, as in a mosh pit, the vitality—and often the brutality—of American speech.”—Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
"Employing and subverting traditional meter and form, the poems in the new book confront the 2016 presidential election in the United States from both personal and historical perspectives. The poems interrogate issues of identity, freedom, racism, oppression, and inheritance, using inventive line breaks and spacing to create a sense of disruption and shift, fissures in both text and feeling."—Poets & Writers
"This sprawling yet astute collection revisits the brutal history that enabled the election of Trump, since for McCrae, Trump is not the cause of America’s racism but a hazardous symptom of deep-rooted white fear . . . In McCrae’s timely observations, the American Dream is an illusion that silences its victims."—Publishers Weekly