Black Queer Hoe (Haymarket Books) bellows down the city streets. When you’re feeling depressed, Black Queer Hoe slaps you straight, cooks you dinner. There is never a dull moment in these poems, never a word wasted, tenderness gone unspent. Britteney Black Rose Kapri is flamboyant with rhythm, sings the song of the wanderer, writes: “ain’t no shrew to be tamed, ain’t no horse to be broke, ain’t no Hoe to be housewived.” These poems tell you what you deserve and what you deserve is better.
It’s not enough to call Jesmyn Ward’s, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner, 2017), a masterpiece of lyrical prosaic movement. In this novel lives what language can do to haunt the mind and to beautify the darkness. A ghost story like no other, Sing, Unburied, Sing is spellbinding, malevolent, and tells the story of a family riddled with death and history—what speaks as unspoken between them. So many moments have made my body curl into itself: “I will follow, I say. I hope he can hear me. I say: I’m coming home.”
Shawn Hudson is unafraid in his book, Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel. With these poems, a narrative unfolds and unwinds. From police brutality to barbershops to love, Hudson illustrates the black experience with no punches held. Each poem is adorned with Hudson’s attention to rhythm, rhyme, and imagery. These poems are mad. These poems ooze honesty. Hudson writes, “Dear America, we have waited 400 years nigga, where is our reparations at?”
“Every living thing grows / In the direction of light—I spread.” So writes Prairie M. Faul in In the House We Built (Bottlecap Press, 2017). Faul interrogates what it means to be perennial, to chase an ever-fleeting horizon. These poems stand in the field, sing. In the House We Built reveals the body’s restlessness as it travels through the world challenging the sea, the flowers, sound. Each poem bathes in vulnerability, desire—we cannot help but think of the ways we, too, craved beauty. Its tender touch.