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Build Yourself a Boat

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  14 reviews
2019 National Book Award Longlist

A poetic exploration of trauma, healing, and survival from award-winning poet Camonghne Felix.

"With Build Yourself a Boat, Camonghne Felix heralds a thrillingly new form of storytelling, as much investigation as it is song, as broken as it is doused in genuine strength. These poems are packed with embodiments— not depictions— of black fema
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Haymarket Books
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4.26  · 
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 ·  99 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent poems about trauma, self-harm, race, and womanhood. The poems that experiment with form are really interesting. I love how the footnotes and the final piece come together. Grad poetry.
Barton Smock
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t know art could do this. Do these. As in, I didn’t know a vision could project itself as singular and, with that projection, distract its own shape long enough to give periphery a stomach. Camonghne Felix is an asker and a teller. A thinker one rethinks so that one might get the chance to pose the same question a second time. How was fire born? Fire was born plural. Is nostalgia real? The aftermath of origin is real. Can you describe embodiment? Description is alone; description cannot s ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
As a white woman, I have nothing to add. Thank you for sharing.
Zora Satchell
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm still digesting this work. It spoke of hurt and heartbreak in relation to the body that I'm still mulling it over... The manifestation of water, memories, and violence is what is sticking with me the most right now. The footnotes intrigued me and I didn't know how to read them until the letter at the end. Now I'm going back through and rereading each poem with those foot notes to see how they shape the narrative of the poem differently. I LOVE the foot notes.Poets that left me feeling shaky ...more
Tara Betts
I reviewed this book for NewCity, a Chicago-based arts & entertainment publication. Click the link to read the review.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I consume collections of poetry erratically, and only make it through those that I really connect with. This was one of those special cases. Camonghne Felix's compelling debut drew me in and never let go as I progressed through Build Yourself a Boat. Felix's ability to convey emotion and shape her words so beautifully. She masterfully tackles themes of trauma and healing in this collection that equal parts powerful and evocative.

I received my copy of Build Yourself a Boat from Haymarket Books vi
Frank Karioris
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
"If the they is an us / I make myself an example."
There are poems in here that strike a chord on a harp.
Caroliena Cabada
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A bold, beautiful, and demanding collection. All of the poems work together to build a boat for the speaker in the poem, for the speaker in the footnotes, and even for the reader as they, all three, navigate the rough waters of a Black woman's (and her subsequent generations') pain and memories. A powerful response both to the current U.S. political environment and to the history that has so maligned Black women.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
The poems about the Zimmerman trial (Zimmerman Testimonies: Day 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), Contouring the Flattening and the ending letter connected the most for me. The others will require another reading. I appreciate that the author played with form and structure and forced you to look head on at the pain, self-mutilation, and what remains.
Molly Roach
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, favorites, poems
Wow. I got this book for my birthday and had to dive right in. The way she outlines her trauma and her surviving is so deep and beautiful and I am thankful that she let us into such intimate spaces within her. This was a healing read for me.
Rich Farrell
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, teen
I was drawn in by the imagery in “Contouring the Flattening” and found the verse journalism pieces “Zimmerman Testimonies: Day [1, 2, 4, 5]” to be absolutely powerful.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poetry collection.

Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
13 year-old me would not recognize 22-year-old me in several key ways, but one of the most significant details that would confound 13-year-old me is my current (and on-going) love of poetry. At 13, I resented every minute I had to spend reading T.S Eliot, and now at 22 I am willing to spend $16 or more on a volume of poetry.

I love discovering new poets, and I found Build Yourself a Boat at the Detroit Festival of Books (which is awesome, by the way). Felix's verse is sharp and genuine. Sometimes
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Camonghne Felix is a poet, political strategist, media junkie, and cultural worker. She received an MA in arts politics from NYU, an MFA from Bard College, and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and Poets House. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of the chapbook Yolk and was listed by Black Youth Project as a “Black Girl from the Future You Should Know.”