Gumbo Ya Ya

Univ. of Pittsburgh. Sept. 2021. 120p. ISBN 9780822966661. pap. $18. POETRY
Queer Black poet/essayist Marie debuts with this Cave Canem Poetry Prize winner, which in its determination to create a new world “enraged/ by even a splinter interrupting/ the palm of our wildest gxrls” positively roars off the page. An opening note multiply defines “gumbo ya ya” as a Creole-English word meaning “a wild-making noise” and “entirely new,” with “the noise-makers…themselves made new”—a not unreasonable assessment of what the poet achieves here. Passing from ancestors to family to Black gxrls, from the “night after our evictions” to “fables of white male/ supremacy,” Marie brings out “the cleavers and tar, the barbed wire, the boiling oil, the/ torch fire, the porch bombs” to reify lived pain and anger and finally asserts “i’ve eaten from my own soft, & stayed// Alive.”

VERDICT Admirable work for Black gxrls and anyone interested in strong new writing.
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