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Hold What Makes You Whole - by  Marcus Amaker (Paperback) - image 1 of 1
Hold What Makes You Whole - by  Marcus Amaker (Paperback) - image 1 of 1
$18.29 sale price when purchased online
$19.99 list price

About this item


  • Rest like the sun does: Schedule some timeto stay out of sightwhen too many peoplepraise warm energy ...THE BOOK.Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker's (he/him) tenth book, Hold What Makes You Whole, is a pocket-sized full-color collection of new and selected works from an award-winning opera librettist, musician, and graphic designer.
  • Author(s): Marcus Amaker
  • 202 Pages
  • Poetry, American


About the Book

Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker's (he/him) tenth book, Hold What Makes You Whole, is a pocket-sized full-color collection of new and selected works from an award-winning opera librettist, musician, and graphic designer.

Book Synopsis

Rest like the sun does:

Schedule some time

to stay out of sight

when too many people

praise warm energy ...


Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker's (he/him) tenth book, Hold What Makes You Whole, is a pocket-sized full-color collection of new and selected works from an award-winning opera librettist, musician, and graphic designer.

Hold What Makes You Whole is a 200-page compilation of jazz, Blackness, self care, fatherhood, Star Wars, social justice, music, and memory. Along with the audiobook and e-book, the Hold project also features short films, two full-length albums, and an interactive website.

On the cover of the book is Amaker's great-great aunt Ruth Robinson, a poet and community leader who published her first book at the age of 65. Robinson passed in 2020 when she was 94 years old.

"It's an honor to introduce you to her Spirit," Amaker said.


Marcus Amaker is a husband, a dad, a son, a music nerd, and a Star Wars obsessive. He served as the first Poet Laureate of Charleston, South Carolina, from 2016-22. In 2021, he became an Academy of American Poets fellow.

His work has been recognized by The Washington Post, The Kennedy Center, American Poets Magazine, Chicago Opera Theater, The Portland Opera, Button Poetry, NPR, The Chicago Tribune, Edutopia, Town & Country, PBS NewsHour, South Carolina Public Radio, Charleston Magazine, Charleston City Paper, Post and Courier, and more.

He's also a prolific performer, the award-winning graphic designer, a musician, an opera librettist, the creator of a poetry festival, a teaching artist, and an advocate for youth poets. His poetry was used by the Washington National Opera for its Presidential Inauguration Day Concert in 2021.

In addition to more than 40 independent electronic music albums, Marcus' poem "The Rain" is on two Grammy-nominated records.

He lives in North Charleston, SC, with his wife, their daughter, and a cat named after Wu-Tang Clan.

Review Quotes

Marcus Amaker is a poet committed to living abundantly on this earth. These are big-hearted poems, rich with sound and story, enlivened by metaphor and magic. In "Why I Write Poems," his speaker says, "a sharp turn of phrase / can sting like the edge of a blunt piece of paper." This book both stings and heals. - Beth Ann Fennelly (she/her), poet laureate of Mississippi, 2016-21

Hold What Makes You Whole is a gratifying meditative collection of poems accompanied by kaleidoscopic visual imagery that pulls you in, settles your mind, and makes way for one's own reflections. A journey of words through the micro and macro elements of a life. Amaker has created a collection made perfectly for this moment in time. - Lisa Willis (she/her), executive director of Cave Canem Foundation

Dedicated to his great-great aunt Ruth, Hold What Makes You Whole is a celebration of the ways we each contain all the elements in the universe. From our families and our home place to the larger sweep of history, Marcus reminds us about the things that make us whole. Sprinkling wisdom on every page, he reminds us that "joy doesn't have / to go far / to find a home." For Marcus Amaker, "writing a poem is world building," and the worlds he brings us in this glorious collage of text and image is one where "You are free / to find heaven /even if / you don't believe / heaven exits," This book is a gift for all of us. - Marjory Wentworth (she/her), poet laureate of South Carolina, 2003-21

In Hold What Makes You Whole, Marcus Amaker harnesses the slick and psychic echoes that our living creates. His handling of this mastery turns up an awareness of how choral and connected a self can be ó across spaces, across times, across realities. And that whelming possibility is at the core of this poet's grace, because, as Amaker hears it, "what could be / more spiritual / than realizing / your spirit / has outgrown / the body / it was given?" Bless this book. - Geffrey Davis (he/him), author of "Night Angler" (BOA Editions)

One of the most multitalented poets in the country, Amaker turns his eye and ear to the body in his new collection, Hold What Makes You Whole. Combining poems, photography, and illustration, Amaker asks big questions of the vessels that carry us through life: How do our bodies hold grief? Identity? Loved ones? How is it that "My eyes are closed / and I can / still see you?" How can the exhaustion of fatherhood make one's eyelids "heavy with daylight?" "I've come to be in bloom," Amaker says, and for him, the flower has many kinds of petals. Conducting his way through a symphony in which he is also the instruments, Amaker harmonizes words with images with handwriting with typography. "Everything that has wings is kinfolk," he says, and everything Amaker touches in this beautiful book begins to fly. - P. Scott Cunningham (he/him), founder/director, O, Miami Poetry Festival

Dimensions (Overall): 7.0 Inches (H) x 4.37 Inches (W) x .43 Inches (D)
Weight: .34 Pounds
Suggested Age: 22 Years and Up
Number of Pages: 202
Genre: Poetry
Sub-Genre: American
Publisher: Free Verse Press
Format: Paperback
Author: Marcus Amaker
Language: English
Street Date: April 4, 2023
TCIN: 88710865
UPC: 9781734673722
Item Number (DPCI): 247-03-7084
Origin: Made in the USA or Imported
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Shipping details

Estimated ship dimensions: 0.43 inches length x 4.37 inches width x 7 inches height
Estimated ship weight: 0.34 pounds
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