In his debut collection, Aaron Coleman writes an American anthem for the 21st century, a full-throated lyric composed of pain, faith, lust and vulnerability. Coleman’s poems comment on and interrogate the meaning of home and identity for a black man in America, past and present. Guided by a belief system comprising an eclectic array of invented saints — Trigger, Seduction, Doubt and Who — Coleman’s quest locates new ways of being in the natural world where “[t]he trees teach me how to break and keep on living.”
“Vestigia” from Threat Come Close:
“In Threat Come Close Aaron Coleman’s tremendous compassion rides the rails of lyrical, intellectual, and technical acuity. ‘I am a half question,’ he writes early in ‘On Forgiveness.’ ‘I am what was taken from me / and I am what was given back,’ he writes in ‘These Miles.’ ‘I am my imagination,’ he writes in ‘Black Objector in the Soldiers’ Chapel.’ Quizzical, idiosyncratic, and blood-fueled: this extraordinary debut epitomizes how the best of our contemporary poetry sings.” — Terrance Hayes
“Threat Come Close is a book of questioning. But it is also a book of love poems. But it is also a book of confrontations with history. Aaron Coleman assumes the freedom to write from blackness—a freedom the black American poet must always seize because it is a freedom that is never simply granted—about blackness, but also about masculinity and black masculinity, and, especially beautifully, about bodies and black bodies: ‘Give / a secret to a being. Each / collapsed. Complete. Fever made of touch.’ What are we if we are not that fever? But also what is America if it is not that fever?” — Shane McCrae
“The poems of Threat Come Close spin with the incremental elegance of a double-helix. They quarry and divulge the deepest reaches of an endangered self, ‘alive and black surrounded by such isolated white . . . a traditional form / of American chaos.’ They sing from a bridge that trembles beneath the weight of the song, sliding between apparent reversals: Amnesia sways into nostalgia, story gives way to song, and song to contemplation. Reliable form buckshots into fragment. Breaking breaks open. The violence out there is the book’s frame, and its defining question, more threatening still, and more brave: ‘But what if we are made of this violence?’ The poems are kinetic in that there is no resting place between the yearning for home—in an imagined South, in a body unpossessed by surfaces—and the threat of containment, of being encaged, owned. In fact, the self here is both lavish ‘midnight peacock’ and cage, as is the poem. Whitman-like in its expansiveness, with Dickinson’s ferocious interiority, this collection represents the ravishing next step in American poetry.” — Diane Seuss
“Against the backdrop of the NFL protests, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the Trump administration’s erosion of civil liberties and encouragement of racial profiling through the travel ban, Aaron Coleman’s debut full-length collection, Threat Come Close, feels urgent….” — Brian Fanelli, 4squarereview
“…Coleman’s generosity is located in the space he provides for us to respond to the four questions of ‘St. Who.’ He resides among the questioners, opening up to the sounds that expedite potential answers. Each of us resembles this speaking presence…Threat Come Close is dense with a recognizable world…” Read the full review.
“…When I read Aaron Coleman’s poems, I want to draw their forms: intricate, precise, relentless, necessary. I would use carmine, charcoal, clay slip, and gilt to convey his attention to bodies broken and burned, to places of refuge and dream, and to the sparkle and shock of language itself….” Read the full review.