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Join us as we welcome 





6:00 pm

to celebrate the release of his newest collection of poetry



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In a 1972 speech in Los Angeles, a speech in support of Angela Davis's legal defense, James Baldwin wondered if survival required "the sense of the person as a vehicle of history." James E. Cherry's poems, one after another, embody and enliven just such a vehicle, just such a person. Amid and against the myths, cues and threats that an American person must be exactly the avoidance of history-which requires people avoid each other, and eventually themselves, and so the hunt for offenders begins-Cherry's poems summon and, here and there, maybe they redeem, the suffusion of past and present, of hallelujah and hip-hop, father and son, uncle and nephew, neighbor and nation. When extraterrestrials crash the roses in the backyard, break out the Cheerios. When the neighborhood burglar gets parole, it's best to hope for the best. The poems in Between Chance and Mercy sew, welt, stagger, search, wrench, and pray to any sunlight in the senses. In James E Cherry's poems the fuel for the vehicle we need is the fact that our bodies hold other bodies and those bodies shelter our storms. If we refuse that fact, and we do, then let's not be surprised when by "five o'clock / it's midnight already."

-Ed Pavlic, author of Visiting Hours at the Color Line


In Between Chance and Mercy James E Cherry expresses poetry's unique power to record, remember, and restore. From the scent of Old Spice to the relentless violence against Black life, Cherry describes the quotidian as generously and skillfully as he elucidates the profound. The poems in this collection remind me that we can't escape history; that elegy is another word for praise; and that we all live in the delicate conundrum between chance and mercy.

-Ama Codjoe, author of Bluest Nude


The poems in this arresting collection leave me stunned over and over again. Alongside the day-to-day records of hopeful human experience are poems that respond to historical nightmare and national shame, as well as meditations on relentless present-day racial violence. The "chance" in this title is the wonder that any Black person could survive our national history. The "mercy," I gather, is the poet's strong belief that we're supposed to love one another, and that's the only way any of us will survive. Be sure, there's no preaching here. Only the hard and beautiful truth. This is an incisive and jarring book, and the verses sing us through.

-Maurice Manning, author of Railsplitter



James E. Cherry is the author of three volumes of poetry, two novels and a collection of short fiction. His latest collection of poetry, Between Chance and Mercy, was published in April 2024 by Aquarius Press. He is the recipient of a fellowship from Martha Vineyard Creative Writing Institute and has been nominated for a Lillian Smith Book Award, an NAACP Image Award and Next Generation Indie Book Award for fiction. His novel, Edge of the Wind, was a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year for Fiction in 2016 and a second edition was published in 2022. Cherry’s prose and poetry has been featured in numerous U.S. publications and anthologies as well as in Nigeria, France, Singapore, China, Nigeria, Canada, etc. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and lives in Jackson, Tennessee where he is president of The Griot Collective of West Tennessee, a nonprofit poetry workshop..

Event date: 
Thursday, May 16, 2024 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
387 Perkins Ext.
Memphis, TN 38117
Between Chance and Mercy By James E. Cherry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781733089821
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Aquarius Press LLC - April 2nd, 2024