Jeffery Renard Allen
Contributor History

Jeffery Renard Allen
Photo credit: Mark Hilringhouse
Jeffery Renard Allen is the award-winning author of six books of fiction and poetry, including the celebrated novel Song of the Shank, which was a front-page review in both the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle. Allen’s other accolades include the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Fiction, the Chicago Public Library’s Twenty-First Century Award, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, a grant from Creative Capital, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, residencies at the Bellagio Center, Ucross, the Hermitage, VCCA, Monson Arts, and Jentel Arts, and fellowships at the Center for Scholars and Writers, the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Allen is the founder and editor of Taint Taint Taint magazine and is the Africa editor for the Evergreen Review. His latest books are the short story collection Fat Time and the memoir An Unspeakable Hope, the latter co-authored with Leon Ford. Making his home in both New York and Johannesburg, Allen is at work on several projects, including a two-volume memoir entitled Mother-Wit and a short story collection called Try Me. Find out more about him at



In Print

Vol. 82
Works & Days
Spring 2024
Bradford Morrow


May 22, 2024
Now that the bumblebees are sounding in the yard, sprint to the garden store in your tank top with your poodle as if there is a headwind. Stub a toe. Hear the tick of the clock as you place your items on the trolley: a new houseplant, two and three: a philodendron since you already have a few and they grow so nicely. Pay for mulch. Get some stones while you’re at it. Some daisies for the back. Black-eyed Susans too.
May 15, 2024
The boy watches me tend the fry pan. First of November in a warm year. I was an old man this morning. Now it is night and I am still an old man. The good stink of hot fried whitefish rises in the kitchen and oak leaves have fallen, painted the hill red. I am an old man because my body does not move fast. I am an old man because I have seen change that is large enough to fit inside my body. The change I have seen is like a bent stick I have swallowed. It sits inside my chest. It might make a hole in something soon.
May 8, 2024
Why my mother don’t like me?
     I ask Ansin, my grandmother. I say, How it is my mother never did like me?
     She steups. Kiss she teeth. And smooth-out that news she was reading in. Raise it up again to give it a little flip. At the top. And you could feel the vexness in that flip too.
     I say, Is cause I ent got no father?