Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police

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9781887128810: Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police

On a daily basis police save lives, take lives, and risk their own lives. This is the first collection that allows us to see this: police officers not just as brutalisers or heroes but as complicated human beings in a position that is sometimes terrifying, sometimes rewarding and often questionable. It is this exploration of the dynamic point of understanding that makes Off The Cuffs unique. Existing books on police and policing give us a single point-of-view, a black and white story that portrays cops as either saints or villains. Divided into four sections - "Eyewitnesses," "Insiders," "Victims & Perpetrators," and "Dreamers" - Off The Cuffs gives us a diversity of voices, telling stories of fear, apprehension, love, brutality, death, sorrow, joy, hope and resolve. Out of this multiplicity of voices: convicts, police, bike messengers and established poets such as Charles Simic, Martin Espada, Kevin Young and Colette Inez - emerges a dialogue showing us the infinite shades of blue that surround the profession and the profession's relationship to the society they are sworn to protect. Off The Cuffs adds an important and unheard piece to this body of work: the usually disparate voices of cops, prisoners and everyone in between engaging with one another within the pages of one book.

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About the Author:

Jackie sheeler is the author of The Memory Factory and an active curator in the New York poetry scene, she has hosted and organised a series and events including The Pink Pony West Poetry Reading Series and The NYC Underground Music and Poetry Festival. She is also the sole curator of www.poetz.com, a web site where poets both known and unknown publish their work. A key component to the New York poetry community, the site has received two awards, gets more than two thousand visitors a week, and has a subscription newsletter of 9,000. Her poetry has been featured in over twenty publications.

From Booklist:

Sheeler speaks truly when she says her anthology is both about police brutality and a tribute to the police. The poems in it appear in sections according to perspective. "Eyewitnesses" report everything from Rochelle Ratner's observation of police not noticing a man sleeping in a park to Sparrow's fed-up warning to New York Mayor Giuliani after "seeing" too many unarmed blacks shot by cops. In the fat heart of the book, "Victims & Perpetrators" are objects of compassion, condemnation, and mixed emotions on the parts of poets intimate with them. The "Insiders" include teachers of prisoners, correctional personnel, and one prisoner; while the "Dreamers" of the last section project visions of cops as they might be and of cops as some fantasize they are. Unjust, but not entirely baseless, rants sit next to expressions of deep love. The formal poems "An Operation" by master poet Thom Gunn and "Street Justice," a Kiplingesque ballad by the LAPD's Nat Read, stand out amid all the free verse, but nearly every piece here is a stunner. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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