Jason B Crawford's debut chapbook, Summertime Fine, winner of the 2020 Variant Literature chapbook contest.
The poems in Summertime Fine are built to live on the tongue. Full of block parties and Slurpee machines, cayenne and ribs—“like everyone’s daddy pulled one out they chest and slapped barbecue sauce on it”—the collection reminds us that what we taste, what we savor, we consume. “See, that was my childhood, understanding everything would be temporary,” it says, refusing elegy but unable to forget the exuberance of summers past, the joy in the alleys of American dread. By turns playful and deadly serious, Summertime Fine sniffs at immortality even as it recognizes how the body will betray us, or will be made to betray us, revealing “I don’t trust my own / blood either / That it won’t leave me if they / decide I am a building worth / opening.”
—Ross White, Author of How We Came Upon the Colony and The Polite Society
Summertime Fine is as humid as those summers, the ones that left your fingers a monument of popsicle sugar appreciation. Jason B. Crawford’s poems satiate us, preparing for us meals of song that fully fill the jaw and stomach. They grasp for the people and moments our society forces temporary: “i refuse to mourn / a life built on celebration. instead, i make a laugh track of / your marrow and still play it when i swear the dust kicks up / the sound of your grin.” Before you know it, you are chewing on how we remember and how we reckon with mortality. Gritty and honest, Summertime Fine serves as a testament of survival through community and memory’s resurrection. It demands we notice “the garden of geraniums bellowing from [the] chest” in our sun’s summer heat.
—Madeleine Corley, Poetry Editor at Barren Magazine
In Summertime Fine, Jason B. Crawford masterfully blurs the borders - between now and then, between grief and nostalgia, between narrative and myth. His joy is so palpable because it is so vulnerable, something to be held tight until it escapes, to be cherished before it shatters. Crawford is, to be sure, a writer for our times, and his work brims with astute sociological commentary and moral indignation, but never at the expense of subtlety. Summertime Fine is joyous, sad, angry, and wistful, and, because of the honest embrace of these apparent tensions, that much more empathetic and powerful.
—Rota, author of Giveth and Taketh
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44 pages in a 6"x9" softcover matte finish with cream colored paper.