cover image The Déjà Vu: Black Dreams & Black Time

The Déjà Vu: Black Dreams & Black Time

Gabrielle Civil. Coffee House, $17.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-56689-622-1

In this radiant work, poet and performance artist Civil (Experiments in Joy) pays tribute to a legacy of Black artists while contending with the “twin moments of pandemic and uprising” after the murder of George Floyd. She creates a swirling collage of visual art, poetry, and prose that reflects her life as a Black creative reckoning with the repetitive nature of social crises in America. “I knew the time to second-guess myself or my purpose was over,” she writes in the wake of Floyd’s death. “It was time to show up to my deepest calling.” An endlessly curious artistic investigator, Civil explores the way her love for graffiti “as urban flowering” has been complicated by public messages of hate speech and relates how, inspired by civil rights activist Josephine Baker, she once hoped to move to Paris to undergo her own artistic renaissance, but instead stayed in the Twin Cities, where she immersed herself in the arts scene and produced her own performance art pieces, segments of which are reproduced in the book. Taken together, her musings act as a radical reclamation of place and identity, and challenge the “pandemic of white supremacy.” The result is an evocative work of art that brings to life an era ripe for a revolution. (Feb.)