Published December 16, 2021

Poets Ashley M. Jones (Reparations Now!), Khalisa Rae (Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat), and Crystal Wilkinson (Perfect Black) confront their complex Southern inheritance, mourning the horrors of racism while celebrating the sweetness of Black love and language. In this virtual event, they read from and discuss their latest collections with moderator Valencia Robin.

Watch the video from this event:

“Ashley M. Jones is a genius in how she wields, innovates, and wades through a bounty of poetic forms (sonnets, an aubade, a ghazal, a contrapuntal, anaphora, the subjunctive mode and so much more) with a sense of mastery, levity, and play. This collection is jam-packed with music, grace, and grit. I felt loved and seen by Reparations Now! The book is a personal mix CD in verse curated by Black bliss and brilliance. I kept dog-earring pages for prompts and poems I wanted to read again until I realized the whole collection was mangled by my enthusiastic appreciation and inspiration.”—Tiana Clark, author of I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood

“Khalisa Rae’s Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat is like a newborn scream that’s been held in for eons. Sharp, strong, unapologetic, beautiful, and angry, the writing in this collection is a celebration of language and rhythm, and the words on the page run like the blood from a wound caused by racism…. this collection is not just one all fans of poetry should read; it’s one we should be assigning in schools.”—Gabino Iglesias, PANK Magazine

“Crystal Wilkinson’s Perfect Black is powerful witch-work. In these cascading lyrics, Wilkinson casts her glittering net of protection over the bodies and hearts of every Black girl. The poet’s past self, ‘a girl, not yet trouble,’ is a dreamer whose desires―for love and intellectual play, for spiritual radiance and sexual empowerment―still carry sweet potency. Here, Black Rapunzel lets down her miraculous ladders of wisdom and vision, while Black grandmothers and church ladies transform into sailboats, safe harbors. Read this book and swerve, in Wilkinson’s ‘perfect cursive,’ along paths ancestral and deliciously strange.”―Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia

Community Partners

Thanks to our community partners for sharing information about this event: Alabama Center for the Book, Kentucky Center for the Book, North Carolina Humanities, the Creative Writing Programs at Hollins University and University of Virginia, and Furious Flower.

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With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

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