The rise of self-publishing has given short story collections, which have been notoriously tough to sell to traditional publishers, a chance to find their readers and, in some cases, traditional publishers (see White Man’s Problems by Kevin Morris). Self-pubbed poetry collections are also on the ascendance. One promising voice in Indieland is L.C. Williams, a sharp-eyed Southerner who writes of endurance, race, love, gender, acceptance, and mason jars of sweet tea.


The title of Williams’ debut collection, Quite Happy, references Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Nikki-Rosa,” a line from which serves as the book’s epitaph: “because they never understand / Black love is Black wealth and they’ll / probably talk about my hard childhood / and never understand that / all the while I was quite happy.”


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In a powerhouse introduction, Williams sums up her subject and cause: “To be black and happy in America is a fundamental paradox and a constant struggle. I am charged with loving this country unconditionally, even when I feel it doesn’t love me….I think many women, regardless of color/race/identity, struggle with a perceived perpetual availability. Likewise, I think many Southerners understand that sweet tea is not a vice, but a summertime staple. So, while these poems reflect my thoughts on my black life—which is distinctly, although not ‘tragically’ black—I hope they connect with all readers.”

“Books like Williams’ wield power to convince readers that black lives matter,” our reviewer said of Quite Happy, which earned a Kirkus Star. “Williams picks up the baton from Maya Angelou, raising her voice to decry racism and sexism in America.”


There is a certain joy
in realizing that a
is the heaviest
the necessary
pushing out
to begin

From Quite Happy

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.