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"(Lilley's) verse brings beauty to the almost-failed world it creates."--Rain Taxi

"Lilley's power comes partly from his sound: syncopated, densely compacted, defiantly resigned."--The Believer

Alpha--the beginning; the first letter of the military alphabet; the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy; being the most prominent, talented, or aggressive person in a group. Zulu--tribe; a member of the Negroid people of eastern South Africa; a Social Aid and Pleasure Club in New Orleans; an adjective to describe the language, customs, etc., of the Zulu people. Alpha Zulu is a venture into African American storytelling; it is a blurring of secular and sacred, the tavern and the church, the fall and the ascension of the individual, the beautiful and the terrible, and the humanity found in the twist of the street and the turn of the road.

The people in the poems--the narrators and the subjects--tell the stories. The details and images locate each poem at the crossroad of ordinary people with extraordinary, edgy, and universal situations, and their responses are spiritual and streetwise. The lyricism of the line supplies a subtle blues and jazz as the underscore for a very particular community. Narrators and personas give perspectives of place and time, placing the poems fi rmly in the continuum of African culture in America.


Alpha Zulu