cover image High Cotton: Essays

High Cotton: Essays

Kristie Robin Johnson. Raised Voice, $16.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-949259-09-4

In this sensitive debut collection, Johnson, a poet and assistant English professor at Georgia Military College, explores black women’s lives through her own experiences. With varied tones—sometimes poetic, sometimes polemical—she reflects on both the problems and the support networks she encountered growing up in a low-income neighborhood in small-town Georgia. As Johnson observes, “the hood experience not only made me streetwise and cautious, it taught me an unfathomable tenderness and generosity.” She speaks to the issues of raising a black son, observing, for example, that football, “the game that seemed to liberate my father from a racist reality,” also “seemed to trap my son in a tradition and stereotype that should have passed away before he was born.” It was only after becoming the mother of two sons, she writes, that she came to know “the opposite sex to be vulnerable, complex human beings rather than beasts that only existed to be tamed, conquered, or feared.” When the Bill Cosby scandal breaks, she feels a sharp dilemma of having to choose “whether my first loyalty was to being black or being female.” Johnson’s moving work offers a welcome sense of solidarity and commonality to its readers. (Aug.)