cover image Bright: A Memoir

Bright: A Memoir

Kiki Petrosino. Sarabande, $16.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-946448-92-7

Poet and essayist Petrosino (White Blood) presents a stunning exploration of her “brightness,” a term that refers to a light-skinned person with Black and white ancestry. Born to a Black mother and white father in 1979, Petrosino struggled to find a sense of belonging as one of only a few Black children, including her sister, at her Catholic school in Shrewsbury, Pa.: “Always, just at the edge of my vision, the white world burst into ecstatic blossom: girls sharing snacks & going to birthday parties, girls talking all night on the phone.” In poetic vignettes that flit back and forth through time, Petrosino unpacks her “brightness,” describing it alternately as “a house,” “a friend,” and a “pain”, and excavates the word’s history to comment on the many ways Black bodies have been perceived and policed: “What I don’t like about my Brightness: how it gets to be a surface where others feel invited to view themselves. In others’ gazes, I lose my privacy, just as the moon does, reflecting.” While brief, her work packs a hefty punch, offering a luminous descent into the complicated racial history of the United States and a nuanced path to a more expansive future. This challenging and soulful work shines with intellect. (Aug.)