Yesterday I had a reading at the University of North Alabama. Suffice it to say, the subject matter of my book is difficult. Mend tells the story of the birth of gynecology and the role black slave women played in that process. The collection is made up of persona poems, and the women’s stories are told in their voices. There are four sections of the book.
- Imagined experiences and scenes that display the fact that the women mentioned above were seen as subjects of experimentation.
- Imagined scenes from their previous lives.
- An eleven-sectioned sonnet corona
- Poems that reflect my present day experience of traveling to Mt. Meigs for research, and a few more poems that celebrate the lives of women I’ve known.
During my readings I typically read poems from the first three sections, which all deal with the experiences of the women. I often find myself caught up in the emotions of the poems and overwhelmed by the words. In addition to the subject matter, there is subtext I know most readers won’t notice. I’ve been through a lot the past six years and it’s certainly come through in my work. It’s sometimes a little exhausting to read the work aloud.
Afterwards though, I feel invigorated as students ask questions, tell me that it’s the first time they’ve heard this story and how they feel inspired. I’ve left colleges and students have written poems and essays in response to my work–which is thrilling. I am honored to inspire people that way. Yesterday, I was honored again by a woman who wrote a blog post on my reading and shared it with me. In it, she calls me a superhero. You can read it here.
Mend is forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky in Fall 2018.
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