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, though, disappointingly, black trans women are largely absent. 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)