cover image Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood

Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood

DaMaris B. Hill. Bloomsbury, $25 (176p) ISBN 978-1-63557-647-4

Hill (A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing) combines in this urgent collection photographs and essays that capture the lives of young Black women and girls past, present, and future. Per Hill's luminous preface, "These poems explore the interior and public lives of Black girls, the visible... and invisible spaces... that Black girls occupy in American culture." She draws on history, memory, and conversations to present a range of perspectives and experiences. Between sparkling homages to famous Black women like Aretha Franklin ("Your voice is/ caramel, lush, wet and warm star-kissed/ sugar around everyone's soul") and poems that proclaim and mourn the loss of missing and murdered Black girls ("You are a missing person./ You, Nevaeh [Adams], and your mother are diamond/ reflections in a fancy compact mirror"), Hill situates her own reckoning with Black girlhood. "Little Wonder," she writes in "Continuous Fire (a love poem to a younger self)," "water cheerleader wannabe,/ may I fashion you a throne?/ May I carry you on my shoulders/ as I praise you with my pen?" Hill fulfills this mission, and readers are lucky to be with her in these outstanding pages. (Jan.)