Nicole Sealey (b. 1979, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands) began making erasures from the United States Department of Justice’s 2015 report detailing bias policing and court practices in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, three years after the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police: her shortlisted poem is an excerpt from this much longer work.
Sealey’s erasures leave the original report’s stilted, bureaucratic language still readable in grey; the flashes of lyric which appear inside it become a commentary on the suffering and lived experience the report suppresses. ‘Being shortlisted for the Forward Prizes is a huge honor’, writes Sealey. ‘This means a larger audience for this work. A larger audience for this work may mean more eyes on The Ferguson Report. More eyes on the Report may mean more honest conversations about bias policing. This is the hope.’
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