A BreakBeat Poets anthology to celebrate and canonize the words of Black women across the diaspora.
Black Girl Magic continues and deepens the work of the first BreakBeat Poets anthology by focusing on some of the most exciting Black women writing today. This anthology breaks up the myth of hip-hop as a boys’ club, and asserts the truth that the cypher is a feminine form.
I remember when I first heard Sonia Sanchez speak - the cadence of her voice, the punctuated rhythms of her staccato verse. Like a full bodied wine, the flavor of her words lingered. My body hummed. Somehow she knew my story. She was a griot dispensing a herstory of resilience, defiance and strength. The black woman instead of being confined to one singular definition was appreciated as a diaspora of resplendent colors each owning her individual experience. I walked away that day feeling as if the mantle of power had been passed.
Nikki Giovanni, Audrey Lorde, Rita Dove, June Jordan, Ntozake Shange, bell hooks, Sapphire, Maya Angelou. Reading their words is like a baptism of water and fire. I am cleansed. I am renewed. I am filled.
Black Girl Magic is written in this rich tradition. Edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmond and Jamila Woods, this anthology continues where Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop left off. This second volume addresses the oversight of African-American women’s contributions to the art that is Hip Hop and fills this void with resounding pieces that rejoice in the splendor and beauty that is the Black woman. These new voices declare that our story is not history but a glorious future filled with hope and promise.
I would like to thank editors Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmond, and Jamila Woods, the publisher Haymarket books and Edelweiss for giving me an advanced copy of this work in exchange for a fair and honest review.
"We are the color pulsing beneath the closed eye, the tinge of a room at moonfall, we are steady suspect since we share our hue with the night. Because we are never seen clearly-consistently spied upon through a safely distanced shroud-we diminished, trivialized, spoken of as stain. We are the rollicking hips and the curious hair, the bristling oddity, the tangled waft of shea and spiced oil, the throats that refuse to constrict. Everyone has had a go at us, poking fervently at spaces in our spirit, plumping us for consumption, starving us for spectacle, killing us for sport. We're seen as the blaring gold tooth, the tangling weave, the ungrammatical phrase, the public exhibition, the occasional inconvenient corpse. We are objectified, analyzed, and rearranged to fit someone else's perception of what a voiceless woman should be".
"Here. This version. Here's where we win on every damn page-every page of this somber, celebratory narrative. Every page of this somber, celebratory narrative. Every page asks a question of our lives. And just like magic, we have all the answers".
This year, poetry has led me on a thoughtful journey. I recently read this incredible anthology! A beautiful celebration of black women and their stories. I even had to screenshot and share several poems with my friends. That alone was a true sign of a collection that resonated, that lifted a voice to the experience of being a black woman and pure thankfulness to have come across it. . Also random fact: I was introduced to Jamila Woods’ music through the Black Girl in Om Spotify playlist. To know she is also a poet and writer, was a wonderful discovery. I loved so many pieces in this collection, I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. It was like reconnecting with a friend when I read the included pieces by Eve Ewing, Mahogany Browne and Morgan Parker.
This book is a celebration of Black women across the African diaspora, a testament to grown and young women owning their power, a space for the Black women who love hip hop and the Black women who have a complicated relationship with it. This book is an ever-flowing river filled with stories of their struggles, their hopes, their joys, what makes them magic, what makes them laugh, how they survive, how they thrive. These poems will stir you, show you mirrors, open doors and make homes in your bones.
[5 stars] A beautifully curated collection of poetry by Black cis and trans women and nonbinary folks. Poems on activism and identity and sex and sadness and joy and oppression and longing and life. Whether you devour it in one sitting or return to it one by one, invest in this volume and its celebration of Blackness, womanhood, and survival.
A fabulous collection of poems that covers a wide range of topics Black Girls of all ages experience. Each section of the collection begins with a quote from a renowned poet/writer i.e. Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Assata Shakur. The quotes set the tone of the section and the poems of the emerging poets align brilliantly. This is a collection for lovers of poetry and lovers of Black Girls.
And I am woke. And I am wounded. And I am wilting. And I am wandering.
~Finding Diaspora by Thiahera Nurse
oh. my. god.
This was beautiful. It was honest, & it was sometimes brutal. Some poems were hard to read. Some gave my goosebumps, some made me cry. Just... wow.
I've said this before and I'll probably say it again: with poetry collections some you'll like, some you won't. It's sooo rare for me to love every poem in an anthology. But this collection. Wow. I didn't absolutely love every one, but they were all so well written, so REAL. I'm having a bit of a hard time articulating how I feel about this book other than saying "Wow" over and over, so.. just go read it. Thanks & You're welcome.
Poems/Poets I really liked
A Brief Life by Aja Monet alleged (erasure) by Destiny Hemphill N by Justice Ameer Love and Water by Simone Savannah self-portrait with dirty hair by Raych Jackson Finding Diaspora by Thiahera Nurse (<<< this one destroyed me)
I liked so many, I seriously have to stop myself before this list gets out of hand. xD
Too much soft brutality, too much bathtub depression. ~Cardi B Tells Me About Myself by Syreeta McFadden
Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Publishers for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
First and foremost, many thanks go to Haymarket Books for the review copy.
Overall this is a really solid collection. It's difficult reviewing collections - there will always be some pieces that speak to you more than others. All in all I'd say about a quarter of the poems absolutely blew me away, half were good, and a quarter didn't really resonate with me, which is a pretty good ratio. The thread running through the collection was cohesive, and each section had its own flavor while still playing into the overall theme. This one packs a punch, and I was really glad I was able to read about these women's experiences. Really looking forward to following some of these women and their work as they move forward!
raw. passionate. real. some poems are tear jerkers, all are thought provoking. I heard some of the poets in the book share at the Schomburg and knew I had to have their live with me. Thank you for your work! Favorites include; Supremacy -Ariana Brown micro - Britteney Black Rose Kapri alleged (erasure) - Candice Iloh Wading (Ode to an Almost First Kiss) -Alexa Patrick N - Jamila Woods This Poem for Sugar Hill, Harlem - JP Howard Divination - Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
When I went to read this book I knew that it was not written for me. I expected there to be a lot in these poems that I had not experienced and that I could not relate to. However I still wanted to read it because it would be sad to only read poems you could relate to. What I loved most about this anthology is that the topics and themes may be similar but each woman has her own voice. It felt like I was going through a cycle of emotions for each injustice. Anger, sadness, grief, hopelessness, and hope. Pride and shame, power and weakness. There was so much range and beauty in this collection.
one of longest poetry books i've read. one of the most relatable to me. never once did i feel like i was just staring at the pages and turning them. i connected with this. also some of the poems being slam poems i can find on youtube definately helped. made it feel kind of interactive. i love that you can tell which poems are to be performed instead of just read based on them having a real rhythm. you know going into this i didn't expect it to be 300 pages long. i'm reading this on my kindle, it's the e-book i got on sale from haymarket books so unlike a kindle book it closes all the time and doesn't keep my page. i open it and try to find my place. i swear it's like this book added at least 5 new poems.
One of the most powerful poetry anthologies I’ve read. Browne and Simmons and Woods have put together a phenomenal collection of voices. As Patricia Smith says in her foreword, “These pages are not populated by a Black girl, not a single, all-encompassing icon, but all of us— spewing pointed curses from Brooklyn, Philly and Queens, DC and Kentucky, casting spells from the Chi and the City of Angels, chanting ritually from the ATL, Minneapolis, and pinpoints in the Caribbean. We are immigrant, displaced, rattled, resolute, resilient.”
The book design is gorgeous, from the cover to the quotes that give each of the subsections shape to the photos and brief biographies of each of the 68 contributors.
Breakbeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Woods is a fantastic collection of poetry. From Justice Ameer’s “My Beauty” to Lauren Whitehead’s “Outside my Harlem Window” to “Sonnet (47)” by Nikki Wallschlaeger, from Eve Ewing to Noname to Morgan Parker, there are so many fantastic poems in this collection. It’s a highly recommended reads.
Some of many poems I'm going to go back to: Roya Marsh's "Ode to Fetty Wap," Camonghne Felix's "Meat," Idrissa Simmonds, "Kingston, Jamaica. 3am. Passa Passa Dance Party," Ariana Brown's "Supremacy," Nikki Wallschlaeger's "Sonnet (47)," Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton's "Divination," Angel Nafis' "Love on Flatbush Avenue," Athena Dixon's "Boxes of Andromeda."
Still don't feel like I can talk about poetry with any degree of expertise, but I really liked this anthology, thought all of the pieces were interesting and heavy-hittting, and overall enjoyed my time with it. Another great get from last year's Haymarket Books sale.
This is a gorgeous collection of poetry. Black women...we are seen, loved, and affirmed on these pages. We find a sisterhood on these pages. This is a gift for us, by us! Get yourself a copy. You'll want to return to it often!
Open to any page and get smacked with truth, humor, wit, power, or horror. Gushing with impressive moving voices. Pages of divinity.
You should read it aloud (I'm guessing most people are like me and do not read poetry aloud to themselves).
Camonghne Felix is so f'ing good; the bit below is just a tiny taste of her incredible piece. A video of her performance brought me to tears.
I enjoyed this more than the first volume of this series; I think that's because the collection, themes, and stylings are more focused and organized.
Meat by Camonghne Felix [May be my favorite in this book]: I turn off the Ferguson feed & sit quiet in my list of generational traumas, reach for the man I want to marry and pinch at the deep whiskey(d) skin for clarity - am I here? Is he here? What is an existence under perpetual threat? - A lisp - A limited limb - An identity of friction - An identity of function
It's complicated when the self contradicts
It's complicated when I want my feminism to serve everybody but that night a man slaps the bold from my mouth, Soho's feminism is a stiff frame choosing to mind its own business
This Body Keeps the Keys by Nikki Wallschlaeger: this shit get tiresome putting so much effort into what doesn't last sometimes I want to retire shave my head be a nun or a monk
just so I can forget all the years time bludgeoned so I could look like somebody else swimming around in their own pallid wheel of tears
You Mean You Don't Weep at the Nail Salon? by Elizabeth Acevedo: a dream, these days. to work at home is a privilege, i remind myself.
spend the whole fucking day flirting with screens. window, tv, computer, phone: eyes & eyes & eyes. the keys clicking, the ding of the microwave, the broadway soundtrack i share wine with in the evenings.
Cardi B Tells Me About Myself by Eboni Hogan: They gon call you all makes and sizes of hoe anyway. That's how this thing been set up. But just cuz they name a thing, a thing, Don't mean it ain't still named God in some other language.
micro by Britteny Black Rose Kapri: let me clarify when you say you wish you had skin like mine do you mean scarred or sensitive maureen? do they not have chicken where you're from magda? mckenzie, what's your name mean... no I mean back where your family's from. i don't think I can be racist, i have a white friend miranda, right?
what I mean when I say I'm sharpening my oyster knife by Eve L. Ewing: I mean I look so good in this hat with a feather and I'm a feather and I'm the heaviest featherweight you know. I mean you can't spell anything I talk about with that sorry alphabet you have left over from yesterday.
Birth, mark by Aja Money: i am the sort of animal that needs to be held, ruins the hold, tears the body apart limb by limb, satin strands of skin ripped open suffer, shame, sacrifice hum in the head as if heirloom or honor or hurt
This is a wonderful description and explanation if the various experiences of the human condition for black females. There were poems I related to as if they were memories or urgent cries. Then, there were others that described another life that I have not experienced in my brown skin. This is a perfect example of how black girls and women are not one generalization, but that they are different and varied, each one unique. Reading this as a black woman reminded me that I am a person, as strange and desperate as that sounds. From the poems that praised black women to the ones that chanted 'say her name,' I felt like I was seen, like each writer pointed at me and made a connection as if to say you are not alone, we are not alone. In essence, the whole thing was a pot of black girl magic!
Yes I have been reading this book for 9 months. Yes it has everything to do with depression and not the quality of the work. I actually feel like through the haze of my mental illness I wasn't able to fully appreciate all the poems...I plan to read through the author sections at the end and read each of their poems, to match faces to who I've been spending all this time with. I'm hoping finally finishing this signifies changes I'm starting to make. This is not really a review so sorry, I do these things to remind myself of how it was while I was reading the book. I guess I should just put it in the updates section where you can update the word count you're at...ANYWAY.
Eve L. Ewing - why you cannot touch my hair Eboni Hogan - Cardi B Tells Me About Myself Syreeta McFadden - Question and Answer. Or: Pirate Jenny Shit Talks With Her Employer Comonghne Felix - Meat Ariana Brown - Supremacy Eve L. Ewing - what I mean when I say I’m sharpening my oyster knife Venessa Marco - Patriarchy Destiny Hemphill - shadowboxing, session one Alexa Patrick - Wading (Ode to an Almost First Kiss) Hiwot Adilow - Abandon Mahogany L. Browne - Built for Disaster Mahogany L. Browne - We Are All God’s
Would give it 3.5 if I could. I loved that it was organized by themes and that it included a wide variety of Black women of different ages. However, it didn’t particularly speak to or engage me, which was disappointing. I don’t know what I was expecting but I was left wanting more than what the book holds.I’ll probably return to this book to read again and change my perspective, not sure.
this is a book to refer to about poets in Chicago. i feel lost and out of touch. but its worth reading. lets me know things i cant relate with. ther are alot of very deep poems in this book. i know i didnt learn Chicago much after reading some. ITs a book to go back to for clarification and maybe speak with others in Chicago about other things besides work.
It’s so healing these days to read a book that is just for Black girls. That just centers us, is concerned with our healing and our joy and our memory and our beauty. I need to find Vol. 1. But yes. This is medicine and glory and love. Sisterhood and light. Do it.
Beginning with the foreward by legendary poet Patricia Smith, this rich collection of Black female voices is an invaluable addition to the Breakbeat Poets series from Haymarket Books. The future belongs to Women of Color, and reading these astonishing poems will make you a believer!
I've discovered so many new (to me) poets by reading this book! I literally read it with a highlighter next to me so I could highlight the ones I particularly liked. Next stop, tracking down more of their work.