A collection of poems centering the experiences of black women, girls, and femmes.
Elliott (Dragons in a Bag, 2018, etc.) offers up a poetic love letter exploring a vast range of topics: Black Lives Matter; microaggressions such as hair touching; violence against black women and girls; the Middle Passage; what self-care and resistance can look like; not fitting into prescribed definitions of blackness; and surviving in the U.S. (a country where, echoing Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival,” she writes, “…you are a miracle / because we were never / meant to survive / not as human beings / yet despite their best efforts / to grind us down / still we rise / we strut / dazzle / & defy the odds…”). It’s clear that Elliott poured not only her talent, but her heart into this collection, which acknowledges race-wide struggles as well as very personal ones. True to the title, several poems allude to black women and young people who have been murdered; the references to black trans women may be too subtle for readers to recognize without referencing the notes. Elliott includes a sprinkling of mentor poems that served as inspiration to her and that form an introduction to readers unfamiliar with the poets’ works (though why Phillis Wheatley’s ode to internalized anti-blackness “On Being Brought From Africa to America” was included without context isn’t clear). Art not seen.
This empowering collection belongs on every shelf.(notes) (Poetry. 12-adult)