the album

Justin Rovillos Monson 

Haymarket Books (February 6, 2024)

Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9781642599732  •US $17 • 6 in x 9 in • 80 pgs.


An exciting debut collection of sonically playful, formally inventive poems that explore the life of a young Filipino-American man reckoning with incarceration.

American Inmate: the album is a rigorous and defiant collection of poetry that subverts contemporary discourse and representations of incarceration, of hip-hop, and of Asian American culture and literature. Justin Rovillos Monson’s poetic voice is sharp and irreverent—improvisational yet thoughtful, musical, and tender, achieving a range of lyrical registers woven seamlessly throughout the book from the first to last poem. Monson’s work challenges his readers with uncomfortable but essential, urgent, and necessary questions: What does it mean to be in the world and yet live apart from it? What happens to the minds and bodies of

those locked away? What happens to the minds and bodies of their loved ones? How can America get free? Braiding personal narrative with contemporary rap lyrics and institutional language, Monson deepens the nuances and dimensions of and within Asian American poetics, prison poetics, and hip-hop poetics with his deft and experimental writing style. American Inmate speaks through cages, bars, walls, and borders, collapsing widespread misconceptions and stereotypes regarding incarceration, and shrinking the distance between readers on the outside and the complex interiority of an incarcerated human being. Sometimes slipping, sometimes soaring, sometimes laughing, sometimes dying, Monson’s fiery debut is a fresh, moving, elucidative work that will challenge readers to think more critically about the systems that govern our lives, to imagine with compassion and inclusivity, and to settle for nothing less than a truly free future that is liberatory for all. 


Justin Rovillos Monson, a first generation Filipino-American artist, was the winner of the inaugural 2017 Kundiman/Asian American Literary Review/Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Mentorship in poetry. A love poet, he seeks in his writing to catalog the body incarcerated, to misbehave, and, most of all, to conjure a poetics of reaching. He was born and raised outside of Detroit, Michigan, in Oakland County, and is currently serving a sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections, from which he hopes to be released in 2027. 



Please contact subagents for the following languages and territories:

Language/Territory Subagent
China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and VietnamBig Apple Agency
DutchSebes & Bisseling Literary Agency
English outside North AmericaDavid Grossman Literary Agency
FrenchDeborah Druba Agency
GermanPaul & Peter Fritz AG Literatur Agentur
GreekRead n' Right Agency
HebrewThe Deborah Harris Agency
ItalianBerla & Griffini Rights Agency
JapaneseThe English Agency (Japan) Ltd
KoreanBC Agency, or Korea Copyright Center
PortugueseRIFF Agency
Russia/Baltics/Eastern EuropePrava I Prevodi
Scandinavia Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency
Spanish in Latin AmericaMB Agencia Literaria
Spanish in SpainMB Agencia Literaria
TurkishAnatolialit Agency

For all other languages/territories, please contact Roam Agency.