... reminds us that poetry can be playful and deadly serious in the same moment ... Reed is the kind of poet who will write a poem from the point of view of the alien in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Alien, or compose a caustic and terrifyingly accurate portrait of contemporary American life from the perspective of the oppressed and title it Leaves of Grass. He piles on anxious images and quasi-logical connections to create a gratifying weirdness.
... achieves a saturated, sensuous beauty along with its high tensions and apprehensions ... Alive to all the risks of staying alive—those that accrue to us all, and those on bodies like his—Reed seeks better solutions than 'hotter showers, / tighter sonnets on which to practice / arguments' ... If these new poems receive the attention they merit, critics may group Reed with D. A. Powell, Jericho Brown, and Derrick Austin, all poets who combine lyric description with demotic force.
... incendiary ... celebrates a selfhood germinated in the darkness of those spaces that society deems monstrous. With breathtaking lyrical dexterity, Reed first rebukes and then remakes western literature and myth, bringing Black queerness to the forefront, while also gesturing toward the vast, glittering kingdom those traditions loomed over and obscured ... Reed continues to spins a lyric kaleidoscope, revealing the fractured ways even those subjected to empire’s racialized horrors are ensnared in culpability simply by surviving ... Reed performs a deft sleight-of-hand to embrace the territory of horror and monstrousness—harnessing its inherent power to threaten the status quo ... Reed doesn’t offer hope...but instead, he gives marginalized readers a manual for survival, for carving out an existence in the dark corners where the 'most we can do is use this door and swing its hinges off'.
Reed cyclones through a dreamscape full of sorrow and protest in his enchanting and enigmatic second collection. Weaving mythology and scripture with literature, film, music, and political speech, Reed offers a historical, personal, and prophetic tapestry that reflects on civil injustice. His musical style is simultaneously his most exceptional and problematic quality; when he is specific, he is scintillating ... While some readers may find themselves reaching for analytical assistance (which Reed’s included index provides), this book proves an enjoyable whirlwind with a simultaneously modern and baroque beat.