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Liberal Arts

Professor Johnson’s BleakHouse Publishing Releases Powerful Poetry Collection

Black Bone Spring 2015

BleakHouse Publishing, an independent press founded by School of Public Affairs professor Robert Johnson, recently released a collection of poems deconstructing delusions of race in the criminal justice system.

Black Bone: Poems on Crime and Punishment, Race and Justice is the first published work by AU undergraduate senior Alexa Marie Kelly. Her work is striking a chord among readers.

“Each poem brings us face- to-face with hurt and loss, open wounds for everyone - and especially persons of color - touched by crime and punishment,” Johnson wrote of the collection.

Playwright and AU Professor Caleen Jennings also reviewed Black Bone. She praised Kelly for her ability to empathize with those who have been “incarcerated and forgotten.”

“Reading her work one can’t help but share her sorrow, outrage and compulsion to change things for the better,” Jennings wrote.

Kelly’s poems address topics such as racial profiling, the death penalty, and mass incarceration. Each first-person poem humanizes America’s institutions and their inhumane consequences.

BleakHouse Publishing, founded by Johnson in 2006, is devoted to providing creative space for social justice. Primarily American University students staff the press, and Kelly began working with BleakHouse Publishing three years ago. Its mission is to publish works that shed a humane light on the nether world of penal institutions, as well as other repressive settings, practices, and beliefs.