the beauties: third dimension (excerpt)

Evie Shockley

SAVANNAHsouth of somewhere, dry                or swampy, you are definedby, thrive on, heat. or you                steer through water while waterseeps through you. carry                your bridges where you go,like the troubled drink they                span. the damage someoneplanned for you is sharp,                predictable, dull. the darknessyou chose and courted rides                your skirt up your thigh. you'veplanted a foot on the fence                rail, part stabilizer, partlaunching pad. desire blooms                about your torso like bitescoaxed open with gnawed-off                nails, like charcoal roses.

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Poet & literary scholar Evie Shockley thinks, creates, and writes with her eye on a Black feminist horizon. Her books of poetry include suddenly we, semiautomatic, and the new black. Her work has twice garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has appeared internationally. Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and the Stephen Henderson Award, and her joys include participating in poetry communities such as Cave Canem and collaborating with like-minded artists working in various media. Shockley is the Zora Neale Hurston Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University.

Evie Shockley's new poems invite us to dream—and work—toward a more capacious "we"

In her new poetry collection, Evie Shockley mobilizes visual art, sound, and multilayered language to chart routes towards openings for the collective dreaming of a more capacious "we." How do we navigate between the urgency of our own becoming and the imperative insight that whoever we are, we are in relation to each other? Beginning with the visionary art of Black women like Alison Saar and Alma Thomas, Shockley's poems draw and forge a widening constellation of connections that help make visible the interdependence of everyone and everything on Earth.

"suddenly we sings the nuanced realities of Black life as homage, elegy, and polyphonic celebration striking at the core of remembrance. A deep and unfettered thinking, Shockley gives us shouts of joy amidst the drudge of a world unraveled."
— Matthew Shenoda, author of Tahrir Suite

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