FORTHCOMING FEBRUARY 6, 2024! From Wesleyan Press, Room Swept Home, treads the murky waters of race, lineage, faith, mental health, women’s rights, and the violent reckoning that inhabits the discrepancy between lived versus textbook history, asking: What do we inherit when trauma is at the core of our fractured living?
In a strange twist of kismet, two of the poet’s ancestors intersect in Petersburg, Virginia, forty years before she herself is born: her paternal great-great-great grandmother, Minnie Lee Fowlkes, is interviewed for the Works Progress Administration Slave Narratives in Petersburg, and her maternal grandmother, Mary Knight, is diagnosed with “water on the brain”—postpartum depression being an ongoing mystery—nine days after birthing her first child. In 1941, Mary is sent to the Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane, a stone’s throw from where Minnie resides.
Not only do these poems reflect the infinite layers these women’s lives added to the fabric of the American tapestry—with experiences spanning slavery to the Civil War, Reconstruction to Red Summer, the Great Depression to WWII, the Civil Rights, Black Arts and Women’s Movements to Vietnam—but they also subvert and expand upon paradigms of African American woman- and motherhood, highlighting the agency, duality, and revolutionary living that accompanied their survival. Room Swept Home serves as a gloriously rendered magnifying glass into all that is held in the line between the private and public, the investigative and generative, the self and those who came before us.