The Ferguson Report: An Erasure (Hardcover)
A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A meditation on our times, cast through a reconsideration of the Justice Department's investigation of the Ferguson Police Department
In August 2014, Michael Brown—a young, unarmed Black man—was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. What followed was a period of protests and turmoil, culminating in an extensive report that was filed by the Department of Justice detailing biased policing and court practices in the city. It is a document that exposes the racist policies and procedures that have become commonplace—from disproportionate arrest rates, to flagrant violence directed at the Black community. It is a report that remains as disheartening as it is damning.
Now, award-winning poet Nicole Sealey revisits the investigation in a book that redacts the report, an act of erasure that reimagines the original text as it strips it away. While the full document is visible in the background—weighing heavily on the language Sealey has preserved—it gives shape and disturbing context to what remains.
Illuminating what it means to live in this frightening age, and what it means to bear witness, The Ferguson Report: An Erasure is an engrossing meditation on one of the most important texts of our time.
About the Author
NICOLE SEALEY is the author of Ordinary Beast, a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and PEN Open Book Award, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named. Her honors include a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a visiting professor at Boston University and teaches in the MFA Writers Workshop in Paris program at New York University.
“Redacting the report word by word, letter by letter, Sealey excavates larger lyric insights about American life from its account of police bias and brutality.”
—The New Yorker, “The Best Books of 2023”
“Peeling back the clinical language of the official government document, poet Sealey creates ‘lifted poems’ that capture the collective rage of the nation, lay bare the visceral grief, and imagine a new vision of liberation.”
—Oprah Daily, “The Best Conversation-Starting Books of 2023”
“Nicole Sealey’s The Ferguson Report: An Erasure comes to us first in fragments—at times not even syllables, ah or id—but as a feeling, the unsayable constructing itself as we read along or listen. The paced rhythm is almost painfully made as if fleshy blips on the heart meter—a ghostly master text beneath. One feels subliminal truths cumulate out of a visceral engagement, and then the emergence of eight inspired poems.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2021