Blood Percussion

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Nate Marshall, 2014

A runner-up for the 2013 Button Poetry Prize,

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Nate Marshall’s Blood Percussion, a runner-up for the 2013 Button Poetry Prize.



Nate Marshall was paying close attention when Chuck D said, “Rap is CNN for Black people.” In

his hard-hitting chapbook, Blood Percussion, Marshall takes the Hard Rhymer’s words and masterfully

applies them to poetry, turning his eye toward gun play, free lunches, skull caps, prayers, and praise

songs. With wit and fierce music, these poems take on the subjects that can’t find a space on the

evening news, reminding the reader again and again that there is power and grace in truth-telling

even when those truths are difficult to hear.

Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke



With language that swerves, spars, and startles, Nate Marshall’s Blood Percussion adamantly asks us

to consider our youth as more than mere statistics or headlines. These poems fearlessly embody

the voices of boys and girls who grieve, wander, love, dream. In a world where appearances are

consistently privileged, Marshall’s poems remind us how necessary it is to render the interiors of

those whose lives we cannot let slip into the cracks of the very sidewalks we all traverse.

Tarfia Faizullah, author of Seam



What can be said? Blood Percussion is what it sounds like it is: A full body experience, poems that wail

& juke in every register. Each page of this thing carries a lyric force that’ll make you sit upright or

throw the book against the wall or just sit there for a second, shook, wondering where all the room

in the room went. It’s not just that Nate Marshall can flat-out write. Yes, the formalistic elegance of

these poems is certainly worth the price of admission all by itself, but there’s also a singular courage

to this work, an engagement with the fullness of its characters’ lives that makes every stanza feel like

celebration in the face of danger on all sides, the beautiful refusal of dominant narratives that would

seek to quell such fire, such love. These are poems to be read aloud and often. This is the difficult

music we need.

Joshua Bennett, founding editor of Kinfolks Quarterly


Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He received his MFA in Poetry at The University of Michigan where he currently serves as a Zell Postgraduate Fellow. He received his BA at Vanderbilt University. A Cave Canem Fellow, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Indiana Review, The New Republic, [PANK] Online, and in many other publications.

He was the star of the award winning full-length documentary “Louder Than A Bomb” and has been featured on HBO’s “Brave New Voices.” He is also an Assistant Poetry Editor for Muzzle and a Poetry Editor for Kinfolks Quarterly. Nate won the 2014 Hurston/Wright Amistad Award and the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. Nate was named a semi-finalist for the 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Contest. He was also a 2013 finalist for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize.

Nate has been a teaching artist with organizations such as Young Chicago Authors, InsideOut Detroit, and Southern Word. Nate is the founder of the Lost Count Scholarship Fund that promotes youth violence prevention in Chicago.

Nate is a member of the poetry collective Dark Noise. Nate has performed poetry at venues and universities across the US, Canada, and South Africa. He is also a rapper. Nate can be reached at

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Additional information

Weight 2.9 oz
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.125 in

Paperback (Out of Print), E-book