Lexicon is a worthy successor to Allison Joseph’s award-winning breakthrough, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman. This time around, this self-professed “barefaced woman” is setting her sighs/sights on language and what it does for and with and to her. Joseph loves language, making it her slippery passion in poems about childhood griefs and fashion faux pas, movie musicals and empty airports, “rules” for writing and rules for reading. Though Joseph loves language, it doesn’t always love her back—but in her wise, readable, and imaginative way, she persists while documenting the minefields of racism and sexism. Joseph finds joy in the most unlikely of places, and in Lexicon, her adoration for the written word lets us see those places in sharp and evocative relief. All hail this bounty, this Lexicon!


Lexicon is an investigation of form rendered in a uniquely sensual, sensory exploration of language whose depth and breadth encompass a multitude of poetic, lyric, and linguistic traditions that reflect the dialects, cultures, and communities in which Allison Joseph is fluent. The iambic beat of the English language is at the heart of her verse whose fluidity and sonic play deliver a cornucopia of lines grounded in a meditation on embodiment, class, race, gender, sexuality, time, and place. Food metaphors abound in a sexy, sense-laden feast of images served with an exuberant yet intellectually meticulous command of forms such as villanelles and sestinas whose recursiveness mirrors the poet’s relationship with time and memory. In Joseph’s capable hands, the oft-maligned and often dusty ars poetica sings with a fresh music and emotional candor that marries formal and narrative lyrical poetry. In this remarkable collection, the poet is at the height of her powers.”—Wendy Chin-Tanner, author of Anyone Will Tell You

“Allison Joseph’s Lexicon is poetic celebration, elegy, and most of all, song. Exploiting tensions between content and form, body and body image, women and misogyny, race and stereotype, these are poems that thrum and churn within their own well-wrought urns—’bodies pushing words beyond the real’—frequently calling out the histories and hypocrisies of their own formal embodiments. The poems in Lexicon hum, croon, and belt out their refrains with heartbreaking candor, shimmer, and sashay—revealing a poet so deft with form that she can easily code-shift between violence and ecstasy, side-eye and wit, lyric torch song and funk. Allison Joseph is a poet whose skilled craft and remarkable voice combine to make a remarkable music, and this book is both powerhouse and pleasure.”—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of tsunami vs. the fukushima 50

A purple and orange cover with a graphic design of a woman’s face in the center and white script that reads Lexicon poetry by Allison Joseph.

Allison Joseph ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 9781597097178


Allison Joseph speaks on Lexicon and new book at Bradley University

Allison Joseph, a poet of Caribbean descent, visited Bradley on Nov. 3 in the Wyckoff Room of the Cullom-Davis Library to present a reading of her own poems and her husbands to students.  In her lifetime, she has written over 15 poetry pieces and books, the latest of which is titled ‘Confessions of a Barefaced […]

Allison Joseph’s LEXICON Wins Poetry by the Sea Best Book of the Year Award!

The judge’s remarks: Ned Balbo had this to say about his choice: I’m delighted to select Allison Joseph’s Lexicon as winner of Poetry by the Sea’s Best Book of 2021 award. Joseph’s Lexicon excels in its vision, intelligence, and emotional range, as well as in its terrific command of craft. Her most playful poems are […]

LEXICON author Allison Joseph interviewed for Little Infinite!

Allison Joseph is the author of many poetry collections, editor, professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University; Lexicon is a refreshingly genuine demonstration of passion in poetic form. Author of the award-winning, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman, Allison Joseph, is back with her newest book, Lexicon. […]

Allison Joseph and William Archila featured on LA Times Festival of Books Poetry Stage!

Please enjoy these readings on our first ever virtual poetry “stage” produced in partnership with Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center. Be sure to scroll through the entire page, as there are several readings from so many talented poets available to view including Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award-Winner, local L.A. poets Sesshu Foster, William Archila and Yesika […]


Allison Joseph’s LEXICON reviewed in ON THE SEAWALL!

In a 2019 interview at Lunch Ticket, Allison Joseph said the following about her emotionally abusive father: “Only after his death could I speak my own individual truths about him. In a sense, I had to turn him into a character, a figure I could control through language. That’s why so many of the poems in […]