Maafa

Harmony Holiday. Fence, $18 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-944380-23-6

“Do we have any black women in the epic hero position?” Holiday (A Jazz Funeral for Your Uncle Tom) asks in this potent and surprising collection. In wide-ranging, long-lined, critical, and at times darkly comic poems, Holiday reckons with genocide, generational trauma, capitalism, and empire, writing: “the paradise/ we say we love is dread.” Through excellent use of enjambment (“We certainly laugh a lot at our own/ witnessing”), each poem offers a political critique that subverts conventional possibilities of what a poem can do, such as when Holiday renders into metaphor an image of fascism at once profound and unsettling—“fascism has a pact with spring”—and answers her own rhetorical question, “What’s between a miracle and a nightmare? Whiteness?” Offering a Black, female hero—one who has been refused such status by the norms of society and culture—Holiday delivers poems that are wide-ranging, beautifully subjective, and intensely focused. Holiday’s vision, innovation, and skill are gifts to contemporary poetry. (Apr.)
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR
THE BEST NEW BOOKS
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR THE BEST NEW BOOKS