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Wesleyan University Press

Suddenly We

Suddenly We

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Evie Shockley's new poems invite us to dream--and work--toward a more capacious "we"

In her new poetry collection, Evie Shockley mobilizes visual art, sound, and multilayered language to chart routes towards openings for the collective dreaming of a more capacious "we." How do we navigate between the urgency of our own becoming and the imperative insight that whoever we are, we are in relation to each other? Beginning with the visionary art of Black women like Alison Saar and Alma Thomas, Shockley's poems draw and forge a widening constellation of connections that help make visible the interdependence of everyone and everything on Earth.


i am black, comely,
a girl on the cusp of desire.
my dangling toes take the rest
the rest of my body refuses. spine upright,
my pose proposes anticipation. i poise
in copper-colored tension, intent on
manifesting my soul in the discouraging world.

under the rough eyes of others, i stiffen.

if i must be hard, it will be as a tree, alive
with change. inside me, a love of beauty rises
like sap, sprouts from my scalp
and stretches forth. i send out my song, an aria
blue and feathered, and grow toward it,
choirs bare, but soon to bud. i am
black and becoming.

--after Alison Saar's
Blue Bird

Author: Evie Shockley
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Published: 03/07/2023
Pages: 112
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.55lbs
Size: 9.20h x 7.30w x 0.70d
ISBN: 9780819500458
Award: National Book Awards - Nominee

Review Citation(s):
Library Journal 04/01/2023 pg. 109

About the Author
EVIE SHOCKLEY, (Jersey City, NJ) poet and scholar, is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University. A Lannan Literary Award-winner, she is the author of multiple books of poetry including a half-red sea; the new black, which received the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry; and semiautomatic, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2018.

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