cover image Concentrate


Courtney Faye Taylor. Graywolf, $17 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-64445-210-3

In her astonishing debut, Taylor delivers a layered elegy for Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl killed by a Korean shopkeeper in 1992 during an uprising in response to the police beating of Rodney King. Harlins’s death is symbolic for all murders of Black people, but Taylor carefully examines the event’s particulars. Some of the collection’s multimedia elements include photographs taken at the site of Empire liquor store, now a Numero Uno Market, and outside of Harlins’s school. Taylor vividly recalls being told about Harlins with language as incendiary as it is haunting: “And when I found her name, fear had me/ rip a switch from its yard. Fear had me/ creased over a knee to be depleted.” She relays the knowledge of racial injustice: “This horror was first told to me when I entered my body, so as I settle in unsettling skin, I book a room inside her absence.” Taylor brilliantly illustrates the shadows that hang over Black life in America, but also the joys, such as the elders who educate and protect the younger generations, and also nurture and fiercely love them. This is a monumental work in the vein of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen from a remarkable new talent. (Nov.)