Cyree Jarelle Johnson '19 Nominated for a Lambda for 'Slingshot'

BY Nina Mahesh, March 17, 2020

Alumnus Cyrèe Jarelle Johnson ’19 was nominated for a Lambda for their book of poetry Slingshot. The book, published by Nightboat Books, came out in September 2019 to rave reviews. 


Stephanie Burt of The New York Times wrote that their poems, “take aim against authority figures, racism, malign parents, deal with body degradation, violence and pellucid queer intimacies.” While Karla Strand, from Ms Magazine, wrote that Johnson’s poems “awaken you to the revolution that could finally bring the phoenix from the burning embers of society on the brink.”


Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, an award winning author wrote, "Their black disabled femme genderqueer brilliant insights and poetics are crucially important to our collective survival. Unflinchingly commited to telling truth with lyrical precision and real talk, rooted deep in their black femme crip Jersey soil. I do read everything they write and can’t wait to see what they'll do next.”


Slingshot begins with the author ensconced in the menacing isolation of the pastoral, but once the work migrates to the City, monstrum grows form and fangs. In these messy, horny, desperate poems spun from dream logic, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson considers the consequences of black sexual and gender deviance, as well as the emotional burden of being forced to the rim of society, then punished for what keeps you alive.


Johnson, an essayist and a librarian as well as a poet, has had work appear in The New York Times, VICE, Rewire News, Boston Review, The Feminist Wire, and HuffPost, among others. They have also spoken at the White House for the 2016 Forum on LGBTQ and Disability Issues, as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, Tufts University, and Mother Bethel AME Church.  


Lambda Literary has championed LGBTQ books and authors for over 30 years, and their mission is to comprehensively serve LGBTQ writers and readers. They lead with the belief that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when their stories are written, published, and read.


Slingshot is available for purchase at