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A 40th Anniversary Edition
With an Introduction by Major Jackson


In 1978, Killing Floor was awarded the Lamont Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. The book was selected by Charles Wright, Maxine Kumin, and Philip Levine. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of publication, Tavern Books has brought this masterpiece back into print with a new introduction by Major Jackson.

"Reading Ai is a fierce reminder that life and imagination are the same blatant thing, that the poet’s voice is indistinguishable from the voice of the world, that nothing can — that nothing does — tear them asunder.

—Daniel Handler

“Killing Floor landed like a lightning bolt and still, forty years later, can electrocute its readers.”

—Susan Wheeler

“In Killing Floor, Ai tested how disquietingly close the brutal and disgusting are to the sublime and magnificent. The shock these poems produce is the shock of humanity meeting itself without the intervening conventions we use to shield us.”

—Richard Shelton


Ai, who described herself as 1/2 Japanese, 1/8 Choctaw-Chickasaw, 1/4 Black, and 1/16 Irish, was born in 1947 in Albany, Texas, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She began writing at the age of 14. Ai attended the University of Arizona and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her first book, Cruelty, was published in 1973, and she went on to win fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. After winning the National Book Award for Vice, she became a tenured professor and the vice president of the Native American Faculty and Staff Association at Oklahoma State University. She died in 2010.

88 pages | 5.5 x 7.5 in.
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-72-7 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-73-4 (hardcover)

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