Starship Tahiti

Winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry


The poems in Brandon Dean Lamson’s first volume, Starship Tahiti, explore imprisoned bodies and the tension between captivity and imagination. Beginning on Rikers Island, the book traces a creation myth in reverse, moving from prison to the spacious arches of Grand Central Station to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Lamson examines themes of violence, gender, and identity in various real and imagined settings where inmates read Antigone, Howlin’ Wolf sings in a black barbershop, and Metallica records burn on a Viking altar. Throughout these shifts, the poems construct fractured narratives that subvert linear storytelling. The layering of voice and imagery in this collection transgresses boundaries between the secular and the sacred, and between the communal and the personal. As the speaker of “Portland Bardo” says, "The fragile, in between state of larvae hatching / is no less desirable than full bloom in a city of roses, if such a city can ever be found."

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