Language Arts

Justin Allen

September 2024
Passage Series #9
Design by Dorothy Lin
Softcover, 224 pages, 8 x 5.375 inches
ISBN: 979-8-9863375-6-2
Edition of 1,000
Printed in Lithuania
18 USD 

About the book

Justin Allen’s Language Arts takes up writing as an integral part of an interdisciplinary art practice. Across poems, essays, lyrics, screenwriting, and drawings, works touch on themes of music and subculture, African diasporic language, visual art, and more, bringing together Allen's numerous influences into one collection.

Justin Allen's Language Arts is the 2022 Open Reading Period Editors' Pick.

About the author

Justin Allen is a writer and performer from Northern Virginia. With a background in tap dancing and creative writing, his work often combines a variety of art forms. He has been commissioned by The Chocolate Factory Theater and The Shed and has held residencies at ISSUE Project Room and the Center for Afrofuturist Studies. He has received support from Franklin Furnace, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Jerome Foundation, and shared his work both stateside and abroad.


In Hatnaha, Justin Allen has reinvented the myth of Atlantis for our postlapsarian age. His art of language cannibalizes the American grammar book, spawning gorgeous new idiolects. Through the buzz and rumble of Afro-diasporic sound clash, Allen hears the frequency of bodies becoming ungovernable. Set to a soundtrack of punk phonotactics, Language Arts is just the book to toss over the barbed wire fences that cordon us off from our post-Reparations future.
—Tavia Nyong’o

Language Arts shares a name with an elementary school class I always wished was more “art” and less rote memorization, and it fully delivers on that desire with its spellbinding assortment of prose poetry, screamo lyricism, screenplay, conlang, and Black political fiction as vibrant as any comp on physical media or stream. nunats nen-tuk nutaks dipa. Justin Allen creates an executable file, one that's bound to spread like Soulja Boy's "Crank That" renamed “britney_spears-hitmebabyonemoretimeremix.mp3," but without the need for tricknology.
—Devin Kenny


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