“Tough talk for tough times. Silencer is both lyrical and merciless–Wicker’s mind hums in overdrive, but with the calm and clarity of a marksman. You have to read these poems.”
—Tim Seibles, author of One Turn Around the Sun and finalist for the National Book Award
A suburban park, church, a good job, a cocktail party for the literati: to many, these sound like safe places, but for a young black man these insular spaces don’t keep out the news—and the actual threat—of gun violence and police brutality, or the biases that keeps body, property, and hope in the crosshairs. Continuing conversations begun by Citizen and Between the World and Me, Silencer sings out the dangers of unspoken taboos present on quiet Midwestern cul-de-sacs and in stifling professional settings, the dangers in closing the window on “a rainbow coalition of cops doing calisthenics around/a six-foot, three-hundred-fifty-pound man, choked back into the earth for what/looked a lot, to me, like sport.”
Here, the language and cadences of hip-hop and academia meet prayer—these poems are crucibles, from which emerge profound allegories and subtle elegies, sharp humor and incisive critiques.
“There is not a moment in this book when you are allowed to forget the complexities of a black man's life in America. These poems evoke so much—strength, beauty, passion, fear. There is the quiet, ironic pleasure of life on a cul-de-sac juxtaposed with the tensions of always wondering when a police officer's gun or fists might get in the way of the black body. The stylistic range of these poems, the wit, and the intelligence of them offers so much to be admired. There is nothing silent about Silencer. What an outstanding second book from Marcus Wicker.” —Roxane Gay
“Marcus Wicker’s masterful and hard-hitting second collection Silencer is exactly the book we need in this time of malfeasance, systemic violence, and the double talk that obfuscates it all. Wicker’s poems have the wit and rhythmic muscle to push back against the institutional flim-flam. He writes the kinds of vital, clear-eyed poems we can turn to when codeswitching slogans and online power fists no longer get the job done. These are poems whose ink is made from anger and quarter notes. They remind us that to remain silent in the face of aggression is to be complicit and to be complicit is not an option for any of us.”
—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke and finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize
“Silencer is an important book of American poetry: wonderfully subtle, wholly original, and subversive. Politics and social realities aside, this is foremost a book that delights in language, how it sounds to the ear and plays to the mind. We have suburban complacency played against hip-hop resistance, Christian prayers uttered in the face of dread violence, real meaning pitted against materialism, and love, in its largest measure, set against ignorance. To say Silencer is a tour de force would be an understatement. What a work of true art this is, and what a gift Marcus Wicker has given to us.”
—Maurice Manning, author of One Man’s Dark and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
"Silencer disarms and dazzles with its wisdom and full-throated wit. Wicker’s highly-anticipated second collection snaps to attention with a soundtrack full of salty swagger and a most skillful use of formal inventions that’ll surely knock you out. Here in these pages, sailfish and hummingbirds assert their frenetic movements on a planet simmering with racial tensions, which in turn forms its own kind of bopping and buoyant religion. What a thrill to read these poems that provoke and beg for beauty and song-calling into the darkest of nights."
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Lucky Fish and poetry editor at Orion Magazine
“With Silencer, Marcus Wicker writes a country, and that country is this country, these United States, right now, and that country is also black. In poem after poem, and with one of the best ears in the game, Wicker demonstrates the simple and difficult truth that we, as Americans, make each other, inescapably—Wicker’s America is a black America because it is America. But Silencer isn’t, for all that, a place of congratulatory hugs and campfire songs. How could it be? It is a place where we are seen: ‘Black squirrels, / they fit in, get along. Know no one. / They see other black squirrels & run.’”
—Shane McCrae, author of In the Language of My Captor and The Animal Too Big to Kill