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Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 7:30pm
As the Featured Poet, I will be reading from
How to Rob a Convenience Store
at The Social Justice Center
33 Central Avenue
Albany, New York

Advance praise for

How to Rob a Convenience Store


From Dean Rader, PhD, co-editor of Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon Press, 2017), winner of the Writer’s League of Texas Poetry Prize:


"In Rachel Baum's powerful collection of poems, How to Rob A Convenience Store, the last line of one poem often bleeds into the first line of the next one. This metaphor of concatenation literalizes the many ways in which we are interconnected through the histories of gun violence. One incident bleeds into the next, one death bleeds into another. 'Concentrate,' Baum writes in a poem, 'because no one can stop the future.' Baum is no doubt correct. But, if we can't stop the future, perhaps we can change it. In these raw, angry, hopeful poems, Baum begins to show us the way."

From Tara Bray, author of Mistaken for Song (Persea, 2009), winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize:


"Subways, Fourth of July parades, synagogues, malls, schools—no place is safe.  The stunning poems of Rachel R. Baum take us back to these familiar human landscapes now painted with the gun violence that has become part of daily life in America.  Her poems show us the price we pay for the gun that has permeated American culture, the gun that is glorified by some, wreaks havoc for others, and of course kills and maims.  She recognizes the “ghosts left lingering” for so many who have been affected by a gun, and our collective need to “look up to search the sky for a glimpse of sunlight,” and still, these poems do not look away. They consider the perspective of the victims, perpetrators, and especially those left behind to pick up their lives in the aftermath, those with no other choice but to go on in a world with “the thunder of guns in the distance.”  These are important, bold and haunting poems.  Read them and be changed."

From B. Fulton Jennes, Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, Connecticut, and author of Blinded Birds (Finishing Line Press, 2022), winner of the 2022 International Book Award:


"Rachel R. Baum’s How to Rob a Convenience Store opens with a Malala Yousafzai quote: 'I believe the gun has no power at all'—meant, of course, as an empowering rebuke of the gun violence that was directed against her. But in poems linked together not only by last lines repeated, crown-sonnet style, as the first line of the following poem but also by their anti-gun-violence theme, Baum shows us the devastating after effects, the causes and, yes, the power of our nation’s pervasive gun culture. A rodeo winner by day who becomes a domestic abuser by night…the lament of a parent whose teen committed suicide with a gun…the outcast kid who was about to change the order of things at school…the child who discovers a gun in his parents’ bedroom and become a super hero…a mother running from gun fire with her children…a failed shoe salesman who packs two suitcases of guns, hunting for dignity—the scenes are all too familiar, all too American, all too preventable. 'I write poems about guns to try and make some sense where there is none' Baum writes in her preface. Welcome to America."


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