cover image Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat

Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat

Khalisa Rae. Red Hen, $16.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-59709-885-4

Rae considers the intersection of history and modernity in the American South in her provocative debut. “The South will birth a new kind of haunting in your black girl-ness,” she warns the reader. These works range widely in form, including traditional lyric poems, list poems, lyric fragments, and found forms, such as the guidebook. As the book unfolds, these pieces become “gadgets that measure moments, that capture time with a broken gasp.” Rae’s strength lies in blending cultural memory while forging a new narrative all her own. “Not much has changed,” Rae reminds in “Buzzwords and Banned Books,” “we still omit stories, black-out pages, broken fragments in a forgotten land.” In “Black Boy Painted Butterfly” and elsewhere, Rae’s lines are musical and lush: “Your back compels us to gawk./ Transfixed, we follow your flutter,/ ballerina. You pirouette across ponds,/ onto petals, symmetric, angles etched/ in your skin, crimson splatters vibrant.” Readers will be taken by the sometimes dangerous world Rae conjures. (Apr.)