dear girl: a reckoning

ISBN 9781938900150
Publication Date: October 2015
48 pages, 5.3” x 7”
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begin again   here where water
funnels and purls against slaver
bowels  swirls over sharks’ patient
teeth   here  or there where bodies
are force fitted into cargo and coffin


Bearing an atavistic witness to the Middle Passage, drea brown ambitiously makes to write the enigmatic Phillis Wheatley’s biopic, but abandons staid biography for a grotesque and hallucinatory fugue. I wondered, with dear girl: a reckoning, is the titular “girl” brown’s addressing of Wheatley or the Passage’s ghosts addressing brown? The collapse of these two poets into each other echoes what historian Stephanie Smallwood refers to as “anomalous intimacies” on slave ships. We see this blending again in the mix of conceptual, then formal references—the horrifying schematic of the Brooks, M. Nourbese Philip’s phantasmagoria, anatomical metamorphosis, and Nathaniel Mackey’s nubs populate these frequently nightmarish poems rendered in forms traditional (the sonnet), contemporary (the bop), interdisciplinary (the talk-show interview), and experimental (the erasure). Feverishly urgent, vivid, and unironic, dear girl: a reckoning refuses passivity, amnesia, and despair, bringing the bones to our present to begin the work of healing. “The dead will have their due,” the author writes. A promise? A threat? A blending.

 Douglas Kearney, judge of the 2014 Poetry Chapbook Competition

drea brown’s work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, most recently Southern Indiana Review and Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander. A Cave Canem Fellow, drea currently lives in Austin and is a PhD candidate in Black Studies at the University of Texas.

Book design by Cindi Kusuda.


Article in The Daily Texan 

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