Reviews for Breath better spent : living Black girlhood

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Poems and essays on Black girlhood, as seen through the lens of the author’s personal experiences and reflections. In the preface, Hill states her intentions clearly: “In this book, I am telling you a story illustrated in pieces of my heart and fragments from my mirror.” She also addresses urgent questions: “What does the active love and protection of Black girls look like in ‘America’ and in a time when extreme oppression and violence is stimulated? I do not pretend to know the answers to this. What I know is some patchwork and remix of stories, inclinations, and experiences of Black girlhood. Stories are the treasures I own. They are what belongs to me.” The author’s deep love for and desire to amplify the experiences of Black girls and women, including her own, are evident. Unfortunately, the collection lacks clear entry points for readers to glean unifying themes and distinct observations from within the patchwork. Some of the poems pay homage to a diverse collective of iconic and trailblazing women, including Jarena Lee, Harriet Jacobs, Ella Baker, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin; black-and-white photos of these icons, the author, and others accompany the poems. Throughout the collection, the poems, individually and collectively, feel like fragments. Potentially resonant moments are fleeting because Hill’s images, memories, and phrases often feel random and disparate rather than evocative. An elegiac section titled “In Search of the Colored Girl” memorializes missing, murdered, and forgotten Black girls and women. These poems are the most cogent in the collection but are still somewhat disorienting. Similarly, some of the essays interspersed among the poems feel unfinished and, at times, disjointed. Despite its problems, the book is validating in its intentions and may be useful in further study of the complexities and traumas of being Black in America. Earnest and inspired but doesn’t deliver a compelling meditation on Black girlhood. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Poems and essays on Black girlhood, as seen through the lens of the authors personal experiences and reflections.In the preface, Hill states her intentions clearly: In this book, I am telling you a story illustrated in pieces of my heart and fragments from my mirror. She also addresses urgent questions: What does the active love and protection of Black girls look like in America and in a time when extreme oppression and violence is stimulated? I do not pretend to know the answers to this. What I know is some patchwork and remix of stories, inclinations, and experiences of Black girlhood. Stories are the treasures I own. They are what belongs to me. The authors deep love for and desire to amplify the experiences of Black girls and women, including her own, are evident. Unfortunately, the collection lacks clear entry points for readers to glean unifying themes and distinct observations from within the patchwork. Some of the poems pay homage to a diverse collective of iconic and trailblazing women, including Jarena Lee, Harriet Jacobs, Ella Baker, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin; black-and-white photos of these icons, the author, and others accompany the poems. Throughout the collection, the poems, individually and collectively, feel like fragments. Potentially resonant moments are fleeting because Hills images, memories, and phrases often feel random and disparate rather than evocative. An elegiac section titled In Search of the Colored Girl memorializes missing, murdered, and forgotten Black girls and women. These poems are the most cogent in the collection but are still somewhat disorienting. Similarly, some of the essays interspersed among the poems feel unfinished and, at times, disjointed. Despite its problems, the book is validating in its intentions and may be useful in further study of the complexities and traumas of being Black in America.Earnest and inspired but doesnt deliver a compelling meditation on Black girlhood. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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Hill (A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing) combines in this urgent collection photographs and essays that capture the lives of young Black women and girls past, present, and future. Per Hill's luminous preface, "These poems explore the interior and public lives of Black girls, the visible... and invisible spaces... that Black girls occupy in American culture." She draws on history, memory, and conversations to present a range of perspectives and experiences. Between sparkling homages to famous Black women like Aretha Franklin ("Your voice is/ caramel, lush, wet and warm star-kissed/ sugar around everyone's soul") and poems that proclaim and mourn the loss of missing and murdered Black girls ("You are a missing person./ You, Nevaeh , and your mother are diamond/ reflections in a fancy compact mirror"), Hill situates her own reckoning with Black girlhood. "Little Wonder," she writes in "Continuous Fire (a love poem to a younger self)," "water cheerleader wannabe,/ may I fashion you a throne?/ May I carry you on my shoulders/ as I praise you with my pen?" Hill fulfills this mission, and readers are lucky to be with her in these outstanding pages. (Jan.)

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