Examines firsthand the lives of legendary Black writers who made a way out of no way to illuminate a road map for budding creators desiring to follow in their footsteps
Acclaimed Cave Canem poet and essayist Remica Bingham-Risher interweaves personal essays and interviews she conducted over a decade with 10 distinguished Black poets, such as Lucille Clifton, Sonia Sanchez, and Patricia Smith, to explore the impact of identity, joy, love, and history on the artistic process. Each essay is thematically inspired, centered on one of her interviews, and uses quotes drawn from her talks to showcase their philosophies. Each essay also delves into how her own life and work are influenced by these elders. Essays included are these:
- “blk/wooomen revolution”
- “Girls Loving Beyoncé and Their Names”
- “The Terror of Being Destroyed”
- “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
- “Revision as Labyrinth”
Noting the frustrating tendency for Black artists to be pigeonholed into the confines of various frameworks and ideologies—Black studies, women’s studies, LGBTQIA+ studies, and so on—Bingham-Risher reveals the multitudes contained within Black poets, both past and present. By capturing the radical love ethic of Blackness amid incessant fear, she has amassed not only a wealth of knowledge about contemporary Black poetry and poetry movements but also brings to life the historical record of Black poetry from the latter half of the 20th century to the early decades of the 21st.
Examining cultural traditions, myths, and music from the Four Tops to Beyoncé, Bingham-Risher reflects on the enduring gifts of art and community. If you’ve ever felt alone on your journey into the writing world, the words of these poets are for you.