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Book Cover for: Alive at the End of the World, Saeed Jones

Alive at the End of the World

Saeed Jones

Reader Score


87% of readers

recommend this book

Finalist:Lambda Literary Award -Gay Poetry (2023)

Pierced by grief and charged with history, this new poetry collection from the award-winning author of Prelude to Bruise and How We Fight for Our Lives confronts our everyday apocalypses.

In haunted poems glinting with laughter, Saeed Jones explores the public and private betrayals of life as we know it. With verve, wit, and elegant craft, Jones strips away American artifice in order to reveal the intimate grief of a mourning son and the collective grief bearing down on all of us.

Drawing from memoir, fiction, and persona, Jones confronts the everyday perils of white supremacy with a finely tuned poetic ear, identifying moments that seem routine even as they open chasms of hurt. Viewing himself as an unreliable narrator, Jones looks outward to understand what's within, bringing forth cultural icons like Little Richard, Paul Mooney, Aretha Franklin and Diahann Carroll to illuminate how long and how perilously we've been living on top of fault lines. As these poems seek ways to love and survive through America's existential threats, Jones ushers his readers toward the realization that the end of the world is already here--and the apocalypse is a state of being.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Coffee House Press
  • Publish Date: Sep 13rd, 2022
  • Pages: 104
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.20in - 5.40in - 0.40in - 0.30lb
  • EAN: 9781566896511
  • Categories: American - African American & BlackLGBTQ+Subjects & Themes - Death, Grief, Loss

About the Author

Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and GQ, and he has been featured on public radio programs including NPR's Fresh Air, Pop Culture Happy Hour, It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders, and All Things Considered. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his dog, Caesar, and tweets @TheFerocity.

Praise for this book

Praise for Alive at the End of the World:

Winner of the 2023 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry
Finalist for the 2023 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry
Finalist for the Publishing Triangle 2023 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
The New Yorker, "Best Books of 2022"
NPR, "Best Books of 2022"
Publishers Weekly, "Best Books of 2022"
American Library Association, "2023 Notable Book"
Oprah Daily, "Best Memoirs of 2022"
Book Riot, "Best Poetry Collections in 2022"
Electric Literature, "Favorite Poetry Collections of 2022", "Best Books of 2022"
Chicago Review of Books, "Must-Read September Books"
Boston Magazine, "25 Books Boston Booksellers Are Looking Forward to This Fall"
Them, "Favorite Books of 2022"
Riffraff Bookstore, "Favorites of 2022"

"The potent latest from Jones excoriates an American present that refuses to learn from its past or correct for a possibly disastrous future. A kaleidoscope of grief and anger mixes with the poet's wit, giving these timely poems a striking directness. . . . Balancing elegy with gallows humor, this penetrating collection shows Jones at his poetic best." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Jones's latest is yet another masterly work, though sung in a distinctly different tenor. . . . [His] most free-flowing work yet, a centripetal collection where rage and pain and weariness swirl and coalesce with stunning emotional and conceptual clarity, yet so intimate it feels bled from the author's very veins." --Library Journal, starred review

"Jones unravels and reconfigures language like he's untying a knot, then rethreads the strands in a delicate new construction. . . . Jones writes in the space between wreckage and resilience. He offers a calibrated reckoning with his own grief, cradled in ambiguity--and we wait, holding our breath, to see what is tendered next." --Erin Overbey, The New Yorker

"Personal and universal, full of grief and sadness but also packed with hope and humor, stylish and entertaining but also profound and touching. The work of Saeed Jones has always been those things, but perhaps never as much as it is in this poetry collection. We knew great work would come from the pandemic, and mixed with his own life, experiences and losses, Jones has delivered what we all knew was coming: beautiful, shining work about the darkness that often envelops us." --Gabino Iglesias, NPR

"As he did in his memoir and his previous poetry collection, Jones here whips up a dizzying blend of humor, vulnerability and astute social observation to map his place in the world." --The New York Times

"A serious argument for community and the rebellion of joy. I love ["Alive at the End of the World"] for how it shows us the importance of defending our right to pleasure." --United States Poet Laureate Ada Limón, NPR's The Slowdown

"The beauty of Jones's poems lies in the way they approach death through the pleasures of being alive, deploying a redemptive levity or an acerbic conviviality to lend shape to catastrophe. . . . Passionate and entertaining, Jones's book etches with fire the 'alive' in its title." --David Woo, Poetry Foundation

"​​A powerful poetry collection about the public and private betrayals of life as we know it. Jones digs deep into personal and collective histories of grief to confront the perils of white supremacy and the cracked ideological foundation that the United States sits on." --Chicago Review of Books

"A poetic onslaught of raw emotion--in the best kind of way. . . . Full of powerful moments, each composed of carefully curated words set against a backdrop of the repeated refrain that this is the end of the world. This book feels absolutely necessary right now." --Anne Mai Yee Jansen, Book Riot

"Jones reaffirms his place as one of the most talented living poets writing in English with this collection, demonstrating an ever-evolving mastery of language and a distinct eye for structural balance. . . . Alive at the End of the World is filled with poems that will stop readers in their tracks. Jones puts his signature wit and humor on full display, as well as his brilliant economy of language. . . . A tour de force." --Ronnie K. Stephens, The Poetry Question

"Swims in the ocean of personal and collective grief brought on by many small and large apocalypses. [Jones's] glimmering words bring wit and ferocity to the page." --Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

"Grief is part of its warp and woof, and the ghosts are more present than past. . . . This [collection] benefits from being read cover to cover." --Las Vegas Review of Books

"Saeed Jones is a treasure. . . . This latest poetry collection is a love song to artists and to Blackness, an elegy and a eulogy and a reckoning with America." --Them

"A cultural sage. . . . Yes, grieve, Jones asserts. Yet, to be alive at the end of the world means that perhaps while we stand before a globe on fire, we can become like Prometheus in protest. We can take that fire, make it a new sun, for a new Black queer Earth." --Kashif Andrew Graham, Chapter 16

"A cohesive blend of free verse poetry, prose, and narrative elements that speak both to his personal history and the history of Black oppression. . . . As raw as it is masterful." --Aiden J. Bowers, The Harvard Crimson

"A vital and commanding sophomore poetry collection from one of America's most engaging poets. Essential reading." --Danny Caine, Raven Book Store

"[Jones] doesn't disappoint in his newest book of poetry that tackles current topics, grief, and Black legends. It's all here." --Christina Pascucci-Ciampa, All She Wrote Books

Praise for How We Fight for Our Lives:

Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction
Winner of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography
Winner of the 2020 Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award
Winner of the 2020 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction

One of the best books of the year as selected by the New York Times; the Washington Post; NPR; Time; the New Yorker; NBC's Today Show; O, The Oprah Magazine; Entertainment Weekly; Harper's Bazaar; Elle; Marie Claire; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; and many more.

"[A] devastating memoir....Jones is fascinated by power (who has it, how and why we deploy it), but he seems equally interested in tenderness and frailty. We wound and save one another, we try our best, we leave too much unsaid....A moving, bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry."--Benoit Denizet-Lewis, The New York Times

"A raw and eloquent once explicitly raunchy, mean, nuanced, loving and melancholy. It's sometimes hard to read and harder to put down." --Maureen Corrigan, NPR

"Urgent, immediate, matter of fact....The prose in Saeed Jones's memoir How We Fight for Our Lives shines with a poet's desire to give intellections the force of sense impressions." --Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

"A luminous, clear-eyed excavation of how we learn to define ourselves....a radiant memoir that meditates on the many ways we belong to each other and the many ways we are released." --Ada Limón, San Francisco Chronicle

"An outstanding memoir that somehow manages a perfect balance between love and violence, hope and hostility, transformation and resentment.....More importantly, it's a narrative that cements Jones as a new literary star -- and a book that will give many an injection of hope." --Gabino Iglesias, NPR

"Jones' explosive and poetic memoir traces his coming-of-age as a black, queer, and Southern man in vignettes that heartbreakingly and rigorously explore the beauty of love, the weight of trauma, and the power of resilience." --Entertainment Weekly

"There are moments of devastating ugliness and moments of ecstatic joy...infused with an emotional energy that only authenticity can provide." --Michael Kleber-Diggs, Star Tribune

"[This] memoir marks the emergence of a major literary voice...written with masterful control of both style and material." --Kirkus, starred review

"Powerful...Jones is a remarkable, unflinching storyteller, and his book is a rewarding page-turner." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"How We Fight for Our Lives is a primer in how to keep kicking, in how to stay afloat...Thank god we get to be part of that world with Saeed Jones' writing in it." --D. Gilson, Lambda Literary

"Jones' evocative prose has a layered effect, immersing readers in his state of mind, where gorgeous turns of phrase create some distance from his more painful memories....There is enough turmoil and poetry and determination in it to fill whole bookshelves." --The A.V. Club

Praise for Prelude to Bruise:

Winner of the 2015 Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award
Winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry
Finalist for the 2015 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
NPR's Best Books of 2014
Time Out New York Best Books of 2014
Book Riot, 2014's Must-Read Books from Indie Presses
Split This Rock Recommended Poetry Books of 2014
Vol. 1 Brooklyn, A Year of Favorites, Jason Diamond
Greenlight Bookstore, Holiday Picks

"Saeed's Prelude to Bruise is a rigorous collection that challenges political, sexual and familial norms and bristles with pain. . . . No matter the subject, Jones's writing is silky smooth." --Elizabeth Lund, The Washington Post

"This is indeed a book seamed in smoke; it is a dance that invites you to admire the supple twist of its narrative spine; it is hard and glaring and brilliant as the anthracite that opens the collection: 'a voice mistook for stone, / jagged black fist.'" --Amal El-Mohtar, NPR

"The features that distinguish his poems from prose--brevity, symbolism, implication--let him investigate the almost unsayable." --Stephanie Burt, Los Angeles Times

"The way these poems address violence, life in the south, race, sexuality and relationships makes for an engrossing read best consumed in as few sittings as possible." --Nolan Feeney, Time

"In his debut collection, Jones has crafted a fever dream, something akin to magic. . . . Solid from start to finish, possessing amazing energy and focus, a bold new voice in poetry has announced itself." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A powerful collection....with a high level of craft, emotion and metaphor." --Brook Stephenson, Ebony

"This powerful collection feels at times like a blow to the throat, but when we recover, the air is sweeter for having been absent." --Erica Wright, Guernica

"A work of insight and great beauty, Jones' first poetry collection manages to be both ferocious and subtle." --Margaret Eby, Brooklyn Magazine

"These poems are tightly constructed, scary-beautiful, and lyrically brilliant, driven by a raw and devastating emotional power." --Isaac Fitzgerald, The Millions

"The poems in Prelude to Bruise enflame, with all flame's consequences of wounding and illumination. . . . It's a story of the forces of destruction--the destruction of black bodies and black selves--built into America, and it surfaces in lines of lust, violence, possession, and power." --Kate Schapira, Rain Taxi