Earthquake Came to Harlem

by Jackie Sheeler

120 Pages, 5½ x 8½

Library of Congress Control Number:  2010931335

ISBN:  978-1-935520-34-4

Publication Date:  10/01/2010

Press Release


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Nuanced yet aggressive, Earthquake Came to Harlem is a tour-de-force of NYC poetry. From Harlem to Bensonhurst, from a budget hairdresser to the junkie under the corner scaffold, Sheeler (a lifelong New Yorker) allows the people and places she knows so well to engage with the larger universe. In this collection, God is both a prostitute and a suicide bomber; Star Trek a lifeline to sanity amidst the chaos of family dysfunction; police are variously family, foe and rescuers. Using language as musical as it is precise, Sheeler's poems animate an unexpected world—one you might not want to step into, but can't tear your eyes away from once you do.


These are strong poems from a woman who has seen a lot and isn't afraid to tell us about it. Jackie Sheeler has a big heart and wide open eyes. Whether she is showing us life on the streets or her own intimate losses and longings, we believe her. These are vivid, compelling poems.

—Ellen Bass

Jackie Sheeler is an inspired urban word warrior whose most deliciously dangerous weapons consist of lancing narratives, savvy quips, intellectual snipes, heady resolves and sexy winks—these poems are butt-kicking, knee-cracking, heart-bending affirmations, emphasis on womanly love of turf—embrace them, savor them, lick the burn.

—Wanda Coleman

These are fearless poems filled with the extremes of terror and tenderness. Any book that contains a line like "Custodian, bring out the homicide mop" has me firmly by the heart/throat. Earthquake Came to Harlem did that to me, from page one! Brilliant!

—Thomas Lux

Weeks after I first experienced these unflinching and restless stanzas, I still feel drumming in my chest. It's no wonder that Jackie Sheeler has once again left me clutching for breath—she's a master of the lyrical backslap, with a relentless narrative flow that leaves me anxious to surrender.

—Patricia Smith