I don't care what your calendars say! It's still April and it's still National Poetry Month. My landlord needs to understand this and stop calling for his rent.

It's due when I say it's due!!

April was a hectic month with working on my novel, hosting a poetry event with Sunday Salon, teaching writing, and reviewing books! So I lost track of time. Forgive me. Forgive me.

Next issue, we will be back with our regularly scheduled programming.  In May, we'll be celebrating Asian American Heritage Month + our spotlight author will be Monica West, Revival Season. 

But first, let's continue with our LOVEEE for poetry! 

Our Feature Writer: Joy Priest

Joy Priest is the author of HORSEPOWER (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from AWP. Her work has appeared in ESPN, Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, and The Atlantic. She is currently a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Joy, welcome to Brown Girl Book Lover! 
LAM: In the collection, the speaker and her father share very intimate moments around ideas we would not deem intimate - learning to be invisible, learning how to cope with racism within the family structure, and learning how to protect herself with a gun.  

Joy: In the beginning of this nonlinear narrative that I have constructed across the book, the speaker is kept from her black father most of her childhood because of her racist grandfather - her mother’s father. I think these are the moments of intimacy that the father is able to offer from his position of masculinity. In these conversations, he’s revealing his interiority and he’s passing down these emotional froth moments of danger and {showing} her how to survive them. These moments traditional don’t feel like sites of intimacy, but in the context of a black father and daughter, perhaps they are.

LAM: In Horsepower, the speaker continuously references her need to run away and escape. This symbolism, especially with the lush landscape of Kentucky conjures up the enslaved becoming self-liberated, and how to be black in America we are perpetually running because we are always trying to set ourselves free from racism and other social ills. 

Joy: I really wanted to write against this idea of post-racism -  that term we kept hearing right after Obama was elected  - and the idea that a [white] person who has black children cannot be racist. I wanted to show the difficulties and the dangers to black children in white spaces, even when they are in the same space as one of their white parents. Also, I wanted to explore what it means to be delineated as a fugitive in that space. I was also thinking about what fugitive means for black women because often time this type of experience is shown through the male gaze. 

LAM: Tracy K. Smith said, "poetry is the language that sits really close to feelings that defy language. Poetry nudges some of our feelings of joy or confusion or desire toward feelings that we can recognize and describe.” What is poetry to you?

Joy: Poetry names what is being thought or felt. There’s something about our feelings on the verge of articulation; poetry is that articulation that has been nameless. Poetry is the effort to name the unnamed or to articulate the ineffable. But if you ask me in five minutes, I might say something different. 

LAM: Lastly, at Brown Girl Book Lover, we celebrate diverse writers and their voices in the literary world, how does our society benefit from diverse voices? 

Joy: How long do I have? Our society has been oriented towards one social group and this group has had a blind spot about everyone else because society has operated towards their benefits. Those people are not going to have any awareness of other forms of living. Their imagine is impoverished about these others configuration of life. Diversity enriches you if you aren’t a part of those groups. 

Lee Herrick Reads His Poem!
Born in Daejeon, South Korea and adopted at 10 months old, Lee Herrick grew up in California. He is the author of the poetry collections Scar and Flower (2018), Gardening Secrets of the Dead (2012), and This Many Miles from Desire (2007). 

Who Is Brown Girl Book Lover? 

  • We interview BIPOC writers about their books and promote them. 
  • We review books by BIPOC & marginalized writers. 
  • We value & celebrate the intellectual contributions of BIPOC writers. 
  • We unearth published books by BIPOC writers and give them the limelight. 

My name is Leslie Ann Murray, and I’m a fiction writer, a book lover, a Trinidadian, a New Yorker, and your tour guide to literary diversity. 
Copyright © 2021 Brown Girl Book Lover, All rights reserved.

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