#tbt: Evie Shockley’s “ode to my blackness”

Throughout the month of February, we will be celebrating Black History Month. Today’s Throwback Thursday post is a poem by Evie Shockley: “ode to my blackness,” from her collection the new black. Wesleyan University Press has published the works of many notable African American and Caribbean poets. Some recent books include Testimony, by Yusef Komunyakaa, The Little Edges, by Fred Moten, and Zong!, by M.NourbeSe Philip. We are pleased to announce that the long out of print book She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, also by Philips, will be reissued by Wesleyan in the fall, with a new foreword by Shockley. And don’t forget we have a new book from Honorée Jeffers, The Glory Gets, coming this spring!

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ode to my blackness

you are my shelter from the storm
and the storm
my anchor
and the troubled sea
* * *
nights casts you warm and glittering
upon my shoulders some would
say you give off no heat some folks
can’t see beyond the closest star
* * *
you are the tunnel john henry died
to carve
i see the light
at the end of you the beginning
* * *
i dig down deep and there you are at the root of my blues
you’re all thick and dark, enveloping the root of my blues
seem like it’s so hard to let you go when i got nothing to lose
* * *
without you, I would be just
a self of my former shadow

Evie Shockley is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of a half-red sea, the chapbook The Gorgon Goddess, and Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry.