How to Survive the Apocalypse, the second collection from poet Jacqueline Allen Trimble, examines the many apocalypses that African Americans have weathered, advising that those who wish to avoid annihilation should “live by rage and joy and turpentine.” Trimble reimagines the sonnet and the parable, producing poems of ironic indictment and joyous celebration. The book explores aspects of the Black experience in America, from Black woman pride, Nat Turner, kneeling, and the burning down of fast-food restaurants. Sometimes funny, sometimes biting, How to Survive the Apocalypse connects history to the contemporary and in the writing proves that the only balm for rage is creativity.
In the great American tradition of how-to manuals, we now have Jacqueline Allen Trimble's How to Survive the Apocalypse
, a fast-moving meditation on what plagues us in our cities, our homes, and our relationships, especially the racial relationships that a Black woman, with Black children, in Montgomery, Alabama, has navigated. Trimble begins with family history and then detonates her way to the present moment. Read these poems and be convinced that the social apocalypse is upon us and is not going away. But there is a survival switch to be thrown—poetry at every turn that will remake us if we allow the transformation. Trimble gazes straight into our eyes, challenges us to heed the warning truth, and skiddley-does down the street, saying follow me! Read this book—for your own sake!
—Jeanie Thompson, author of The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller
In How to Survive the Apocalypse
, Jacqueline Trimble has crafted a powerful, clear-eyed guidebook for navigating the world. By turns witty and wry, these sharply observed poems ask us to consider the thin veil between memory and truth. "Do you see how we survived?" asks Trimble in "The Fire Shut Up in My Bones." These remarkable poems tell us and teach us. An extraordinary book.
—Catherine Pierce, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, author of Danger Days
Jaqueline Trimble's How to Survive the Apocalypse
is a delicate kind of magic. This is a book that revels in a present and a future so rooted in history that it rhymes. Trimble's poems and stories remind us that apocalypse, for many of us, has been our primary inheritance. This is a collections that sings of all Black folks have endured in this country, not simply as a celebration of that endurance but as a righteous rejection of its continued necessity. I am so thankful for this collection.
—Nate Marshall, author of Finna
In How to Survive the Apocalypse
you will be lyrically captivated by Jacqueline Trimble, who reminds us what it means to be "poet" in the twenty-first century. Not since Carolyn Rogers have we heard a voice this bold and buttressed by poetic craft. It's all here—the energy and excitement of Black idiom reimagined as contemporary art, the beautiful defiance of a balled fist disguised as love. How to Survive the Apocalypse
is so damn good it'll make you cry, not just because of some innate sadness in the words, but because these are bomb-poems, exquisite poems with teeth, cutting through the fat meat straight to the bone. Trimble aims straight at the heart of American life, and her beautiful poetic critique hits the bullseye.
—Randall Horton, recipient of the American Book Award for #289-128: Poems
How to Survive the Apocalypse
has a lot of spark. It has a jazz quality. Or, more specifically, it speaks to what Art Blakey observed: "Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life."
—Nick Makoha, author of Kingdom of Gravity
What is a poem but a prayer? A sermon in verse, writ large and clear and Black for all to see? Black poets have always told the truth with God in one hand and blood in the other, and Jacqueline Trimble sits squarely in that tradition with How to Survive the Apocalypse
. Her poems, which come from the gut, which come from the throat, which come from the beating heart of a Black woman making meaning out of the soured meal of America, are a wonder to behold. This book has no time for tea-party pleasantries or the curling of a politician's, or legal document's, or colonizer's tongue. It is a book of urgency and ultimatum—get on board, or get behind us.
—Ashley M. Jones, Poet Laureate of Alabama, author of Reparations Now!
"If you haven't lived through trials and tribulations, baby," the old folks would say, "just keepa living." Jackie Trimble's volume is about life and living. It is a personal, familial, communal, and ancestral testimonial swathed in joy and righteous indignation. These poems reveal the souls of Black folks ignited, renewed, and persisting in the face of injustice. Trimble's words, images, and rhythms constitute a feast of uplift. And no matter whether they are served grilled, barbecued, baked or broiled, they are recipes for life, giving us new reasons to keep on living.
—Neal A. Lester, professor of English, founding director of Project Humanities, Arizona State University