Negotiations

Destiny O. Birdsong. Tin House, $16.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-951142-13-1
Birdsong debuts with an extraordinary string of immaculate, brutal narratives about systemic violence and racism, and their repercussions for Black American women. Her linguistic structure is kinetic and eclectic, with moments of macabre spectacle: “I want you to rot,// piece by piece, with everyone you know unwilling// to enter the room—not because they love you,// but because they just can’t take the smell,” as well as intrinsic dread: “your body is all asymptotes and fractals.// your own skin splinters in the dark/ from its dense heat. the pieces// come back together under a halo of prescriptions/ steeping your head in yellow light.” Birdsong seamlessly shifts narrative perspectives, tones, and syntax, skillfully controlling enjambment and white space. Despite grim motifs, her work harnesses levity through sardonicism, riveting diatribe, and unromantic resilience: “I am destined to infuse/ survival with meaning,” she writes, inviting the reader to “feel powerful enough to translate each ache/ into inquiry.” Birdsong’s striking imagery and contagious fervor are a potent salve against apathy and foreboding. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2020
Release date: 10/13/2020
Genre: Poetry
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