POETRY

Anarcha Speaks: A History in Poems

Beacon. (National Poetry). Oct. 2018. 92p. ISBN 9780807009215. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780807009314. POETRY
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Called the father of modern gynecology, Dr. J. Marion Sims arrived at his methods through painful experimentation (without anesthesia) on African American slave women who obviously had no choice. One such woman was Anarcha, rescued here from history (as she never can be from Sims) by the award-winning Christina (This Is Women's Work). Christina gives her a history, from the Middle Passage ("we bottom of the boat heavy heavy") through sexual abuse by her master ("he take what he want/ he keep a hot hand"), her pregnancy ("how you translate a bludgeonin to/ a birth?"), a vaginal fistula ("we caint shut up the piss, the blood") to intervention by Sims ("doctor/massa makin science 'tween my legs"). While he inflicts suffering ("ain't enough language/ for the hurt of me," cries Anarcha), Sims coldly observes, "But Anarcha, the cougar-eyed gal/ split clean from end to end/ is where the work is."
VERDICT As befits a Women of the World Slam Champion and 2011 National Poetry Slam Champion, Christina uses rhythmic, throbbing, vervy language that lets readers live Anarcha's tragic story.

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