The Trembling Tiber, a black poet’s musing on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
– Greece’s Eyelands International Poetry Book Award Winner –
“…torrent of vibrating words engulfing the reader in their powerful rhythm and heartfelt truth.”
When as a visiting artist resident at the prestigious American Academy in Rome, Italy, poet Neal Hall, M.D., was stopped at gunpoint by a soldier of the Italian special forces. His offense: being black walking about in an affluent white district. The soldier profiled him as an illegal African alien. By chance, the color-coded profiling and indictment fell on the Ides of March, the day Caesar was assassinated. This coincidence inspired Hall to take a deep dive into Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Thought the first of its kind, the hybrid poetic narratives emerging from this exploration interweave Shakespearean literary tools with those of Hall’s own poetic craft. The hybrid speaks in direct, new powerful ways to universal contemporary issues of freedom and equality. The poems provides a new prism through which to view today’s power constructs, They challenge the reader to recognize the coded and decoded socio-political-economic struggles of today’s marginalized people and to question – for whom liberty’s bell truly tolls.
“If Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was a tightrope one could stretch between the idiosyncratically abysmal and the collectively political, then Neal Hall’s The Trembling Tiber is an elegant walk on this fragile tightrope. The poet’s voice is guttural yet soothing, lulling the reader into a timeless world of injustice, conflict and rage but also of hope, courage and inner freedom. Neal Hall’s poetry is a torrent of vibrating words engulfing the reader in their powerful rhythm and heartfelt truth.” – Andriana Minou, Judge, Greece’s Eyelands International Poetry Book Award