“women’s voting rights at one hundred (but who’s counting?)”

Evie Shockley

             eenie meenie minie moe             catch a voter by her toe             if she hollers then you know            got yourself a real jane crow                           ~~~one vote is an opinionwith a quiet legal force ::a barely audible beepin the local traffic, & justa plashless drop of mercuryin the national thermometer.but a collectivity of votes/ a flock of votes, a pride of votes,a murder of votes / can reallymake some noise.                           ~~~                              one vote begets another                               if you make a habit of it.                   my mother started taking me                       to the polls with her when i                         was seven :: small, thrilled                             to step in the booth, pull                        the drab curtain hush-shut                        behind us, & flip the levers                 beside each name she pointed                       to, the Xs clicking into view.                           there, she called the shots.                             ~~~                 rich gal, poor gal                 hired girl, thief                teacher, journalist                  vote your grief                            ~~~ one vote's as good as another :: still, in 1913, illinois's gentlesuffragists, hearing southernwomen would resent spottingmrs. ida b. wells-barnett amidstwhite marchers, gently kickedtheir sister to the curb. but whenthe march kicked off, ida gotright into formation, as planned.the tribune's photo showedher present & accounted for.                           ~~~                     one vote can be hard to keep                          an eye on :: but several / a                       colony of votes / can't scuttle                   away unnoticed so easily. my                   mother, veteran registrar for                      our majority black election                      district, once found—after                    much searching—two bags                     of ballots / a litter of votes /                    stuffed in a janitorial closet.                           ~~~                   one-mississippi                  two-mississippis                           ~~~one vote was all fannie louhamer wanted. in 1962, whenher constitutional right wasover forty years old, she triedto register. all she got for hertrouble was literacy tested, polltaxed, fired, evicted, & shotat. a year of grassroots activismnearly planted her mississippifreedom democratic partyin the national convention.                           ~~~                           one vote per eligible voter                   was all stacey abrams needed.                        she nearly won the georgia              governor's race in 2018 :: lost by            50,000 / an unkindness of votes /                to the man whose job was purg                        maintaining the voter rolls.                 days later, she rolled out plans                      for getting voters a fair fight.              it's been two years—& counting.

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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 (National Book Award Finalist), semiautomatic (Pulitzer Prize finalist), and the new black (winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). She publishes nationally and internationally, and has been translated into French, Polish, Slovenian, and Spanish. Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, 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.

Middletown, Connecticut

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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