A lyrical biography from a master of the craft.

AUGUSTA SAVAGE

THE SHAPE OF A SCULPTOR'S LIFE

A renowned poet brings a Harlem Renaissance artist’s story to life.

Nelson focuses her poetic skills on Black sculptor and teacher Augusta Savage in this biography for budding historians, artists, and poetry lovers alike. Savage’s life makes for great material—she was born in Florida in 1892, a middle child with 13 siblings, into a world of racial discrimination. She was thrice married, the first time at only 15, and in 1921 moved to New York City in search of better opportunities. Savage created a number of stunning sculptures that captured elements and figures of contemporary Black life. Nelson’s arresting poetry, which is accompanied by photographs of Savage’s work, dazzles as it experiments with form and supplies elegant lines about the artist’s many triumphs and struggles. In one concrete poem, Nelson writes: “At eighteen, Gussie was widowed, with a / toddler older than her youngest siblings. / The family’s hand opened and closed / in welcome. But fingers remember.” The poems follow Savage’s life in chronological order, beginning with her birth and ending with a meditation on her striking 1959 sculpture, Bas Relief of a Female Dancer. At times the enticing verses beg for more biographical context to add weight; readers will benefit from starting with the informative afterword by Tammi Lawson, curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

A lyrical biography from a master of the craft. (photo credits) (Verse biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-29802-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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