BLACK UNCLE by John Marcus Powell


John Marcus Powell and I share a generation and a geography. I opened this book and turned the pages greedily, drawn into a story told in an irresistible voice that leads, like the pied piper, into a way of life that has almost disappeared. The poem begins at a moment frozen in history but the protagonist steps from it into our changed society with the abiding truth of boyhood held out like a perfectly-wrapped gift.

– Ann Drysdale, author of Feeling Unusual

John Marcus Powell’s Black Uncle is an intimate history told in voices—in this case a Welsh boy named Timmy and his Mam. Their alternating monologues tell a rich and nuanced tale of a family separated by the Second World War and of the black American soldier who deeply touches both of their lives. Powell orchestrates notes of personal tragedy, parochial prejudice, and sexual awakening in delightful, fluent verse, each line composed in the mouth of a brilliant actor-poet. When, years ago, I first heard Powell perform his poems in a burlesque house in the East Village, I remember the buzz that went around the room: here was the real deal! Black Uncle is his strongest work to date, a tour de force of voice, character, and feeling. I can’t recommend it highly enough. (—David Yezzi, author of More Things in Heaven)

John Marcus Powell brings a lost world marvelously back to life again in Black Uncle, a world of fears, injuries, and losses caused by poverty, war, and nonconformity. Yet, in the midst of great deprivations in a tiny Welsh village, Powell celebrates the growth of “exuberant weeds,/ extravagant brussel sprouts.”
(—Jee Leong Koh, author of Inspector Inspector)

Perfect Bound
Illustrations by Julio Perea
85 pages