Field Study

Farrar. Jun. 2021. 176p. ISBN 9780374539023. pap. $16. POETRY
Winner of the 2020 James Laughlin Award, this second collection from the Black American poet Sebree (after Mistress) is part lyrical poem and part prose, a beautifully executed “collection of observational information” that references over 100 works ranging from key authors to pop culture as it affords us a study on intimacy, race, and gender. “Note: This is an investigation of the effects of the world on one woman’s desire and identity formation,” Sebree explains. An elegy to a past relationship with a white man is woven throughout, layered with all the complexities and emotional turmoil one might expect when mourning such a relationship and which Sebree so expertly captures. The dedication reads, “For people seeking whole with the holes they see”; this phrase and the theme itself are repeated again and again, as Sebree offers acute self-reflection that embraces the reader.
VERDICT Black womanhood, the unyielding past, bonds forged and broken--all are powerfully explored in ways that allow the reader to feel present in each poem, walking with the narrator and bearing witness to moments of racism and violence. Highly recommended.
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