Picture of the physical book


To speak in tongues is to be possessed / overcome by your own body. This collection speaks to these charades of understanding / some things about language, something about possessions & higher powers.

For me, the unclassifiable beauty of Mannish Tongues begins with jayy’s take on a poetic line. They can be terse but not intrusively choppy, grand but wary of fake gestures, comfortable with common speech in uncommon language, and then formal as a queen’s versifier. Meeting it with subject, they have created a book that is fluid, beautiful and as brave as the origin stories that come from their poems. ~ Robert Lashley, The Homeboy Songs

Mannish Tongues travels along and into fraught geographies. […] I am not claiming that Mannish Tongues is macabre. Nor am I claiming that it celebrates resilience. Instead, Mannish Tongues names the materials of its architecture with care, and its forms emerge from engaging the price of those materials: within the modern age, after 1492 according to the philosopher Sylvia Wynter, blackness will be produced as commodity, counted in ledgers, ranked in taxonomy, traded across city states and, later, nation states, turned into the material from which fortunes will be made. Those who survive the crossing—from person to commodity—will forge new ways of imagining personhood, languages and practices that mine ancestral memories and ocean floors, tongues that unmake the undoing by creating lives and afterlives. Mannish Tongues asks its readers to reckon with the materials out of which memory, desire, family, and faith emerge. ~ Keguro Macharia (excerpt from introduction)

From the beginning of Mannish Tongues to the end, dodd’s mastery of language is electrifying. ~ Noor Hindi, reviewed in Nervous Poodle Poetry

These poems carry a disruptive power that is uniquely sharp, and are nothing short of necessary in today’s world. ~ Rachelle Toarmino, reviewed in The Public (as part of their ‘Peach Picks’ segment).

A jayy dodd poem is a jayy dodd poem: singular, wrought, rhythmic, pulsing. Their new collection, Mannish Tongues, equal parts testimony and performance, both sings and mourns the Black body, the church, the spaces we inhabit, our identities. In the book’s opening, some kind of processional, jayy writes: “Because there is always a body in a poem, my body is Black, soft / some kind-of-attempt at here.” Here, yes, is where jayy forever is in Mannish Tongues: as boy, as Black, as poet, as survivor, as so much. Which is why this book lives as prayer, offering, testament, testimony, guide, play, memoir, poetry. ~ Devin Kelly, taken from their interview with jayy in Entropy

# First edition, limited print run – $12.00 (Press Kit)



In the right light my body is reflected,
unevenly distributed at an angle of severity
while your mind betrays.

Take solace from the blinding,
this disorienting prism called mine, called fixture,
becoming illusion—how breath becomes sleight of hand.

My body is a parlor trick called survival
& I know which card you picked; second-guess
all you know is real,                   can you believe your eyes?

Behind the door you didn’t open
I am waiting, distraction from
the spectacle of pleasure.

Look closely or miss the con, miss the grift.
As my right hand bleeds from the palm,
wound wide, my left tightens to fist.

Check over your shoulder, look under your seat.
Behind your ear I manifest loose change,
reparation for indulging my fiction:

                  the never-ending noose I pull from my throat,
                  the way my feet hang just above ground—
                  call it levitation.

Now watch carefully, hold the saw, see the edges
glittering & sharp. See how the slightest caress
draws blood, see how I split,

serrated down the spine, a supple magic—
holding incantations of an immortal ancestry,
a silent lineage of divine bodies.

The only deception
I am unable to master:
                                                      the vanishing act.

* first published in Assaracus, Issue 22.