Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Venus Hottentot: Poems” as Want to Read:
The Venus Hottentot: Poems
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Venus Hottentot: Poems

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  122 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Elizabeth Alexander's highly praised first collection is available once again

I didn't want to write a poem that said "blackness
is," because we know better than anyone
that we are not one or ten or ten thousand things
Not one poem
-from "Today's News"

Originally published in 1990 to widespread acclaim, The Venus Hottentot introduces Elizabeth Alexander's vital poetic voice, di
Paperback, 64 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Graywolf Press (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Venus Hottentot, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Venus Hottentot

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 243)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 24, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2012
Out of this collection, the title poem really serves as the benchmark. "The Venus Hottentot" is divine. I would quote it in its entirety for lines like:

In the newspaper lithograph
my buttocks are shown swollen
and luminous as a planet.

Monsieur Cuvier investigates
between my legs, poking, prodding,
sure of his hypothesis.
I half expect him to pull silk
scarves from inside me, paper poppies,
then a rabbit! He complains
at my scent and does not think
I comprehend, but I speak

English. I speak Dutch. I speak
Robert Beveridge
Aug 19, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Alexander, The Venus Hottentot (University Press of Virginia, 1990)

I started a number of poetry volumes over the weekend, including a much-anticipated one from one of my favorite poets, and none of them captured me the way The Venus Hottentot did. Elizabeth Alexander has a wonderful voice, and she knows how to craft it into strong, yet delicate, poems:

“I half expect him to pull silk
scarves from inside me, paper poppies,
then a rabbit! He complains
at my scent and does not think
I comprehe
Aug 19, 2014 emm rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I first started reading this book,around 4 or 5 years ago,I remember instantly liking it and mentally engraving "Elizabeth Alexander"into my head and thinking something like,'I did'nt know there were black poets like this...'It's amazing to look back now and to see how little I knew about the art of poetry and about myself to become a more "creative"

After re-reading, this book left me with 2 new favorite poems.The first is 'Zodiac' because,you know,what is it about about that first
Mar 26, 2007 theri rated it really liked it
I read this after hearing her read at a museum. I really loved the imagery and the simple language. it breathed life into some things that I had become so familiar with. For those that are unfamiliar with the idea of the Venus Hottentot, Alexander is a great poetic start. She nuances and plays with the image from a variety of perspectives. It's a great book.

Be aware of the jazz references. If you can't decipher them, it is okay but knowing them does enhance your experience of the poems.
Erica Freeman
Oct 08, 2007 Erica Freeman rated it really liked it
Written by a professor I had at Haverford. of the best teachers I've ever had...brilliant, funny, talented, inspired and inspiring...beautiful poems...her first book, I believe.

Considered her as mentor.
Aug 21, 2009 Andrea rated it liked it
I think "The Venus Hottentot” is the best poem in the collection. Many of the other sections work to reclaim historical figures, but not as well. I also really like her childhood poems.
Apr 21, 2014 Marthe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dazzling look into history, gender, and race, these poems range from personal memory to cultural history to human personae.
Tara Betts
This is the version that I have of THE VENUS HOTTENTOT. Now, it's on Graywolf Press.
Dec 13, 2012 Tracy rated it liked it
Some poems hit the mark, others not so much.
Dec 28, 2007 Aichlee rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poets, anyone.
Shelves: poetry
precise, gorgeous language.
Amina marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2016
Rachel marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2016
Michelle  Hogmire
Michelle Hogmire marked it as to-read
Jun 10, 2016
Derek rated it liked it
Jun 09, 2016
Shannon Moham
Shannon Moham marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2016
Jack marked it as to-read
May 20, 2016
Ida Riv
Ida Riv marked it as to-read
May 11, 2016
Lindsey marked it as to-read
Apr 26, 2016
Tega marked it as to-read
Mar 28, 2016
Francky Dekoto
Francky Dekoto marked it as to-read
Mar 20, 2016
Allison Smith
Allison Smith marked it as to-read
Mar 10, 2016
Katie rated it liked it
Mar 05, 2016
Jbondandrews marked it as to-read
Mar 01, 2016
Lisa added it
Feb 04, 2016
Roger marked it as to-read
Jan 27, 2016
Mel added it
Jan 11, 2016
Maya rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Splay Anthem
  • Demonic Grounds: Black Women And The Cartographies Of Struggle
  • Head Off & Split
  • Against Which
  • leadbelly
  • Break the Glass
  • Domestic Work: Poems
  • Brutal Imagination
  • Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America
  • Quantum Lyrics
  • Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems
  • Kingdom Animalia
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Muse and Drudge
  • Facts for Visitors
  • Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry
  • Rise Up
  • Shroud of the Gnome
Elizabeth Alexander is a Quantrell Award-winning American poet, essayist, playwright, university professor, and scholar of African-American literature and culture. She teaches English language/literature, African-American literature, and gender studies at Yale University. Alexander was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard during the 2007-08 academic year.

Alexander's po
More about Elizabeth Alexander...

Share This Book