In celebration of Black History Month, we’ll be highlighting a diverse range of books, all written by Black American authors, all of which celebrate and prioritize the 2024 theme, “African Americans and the Arts”. We will be exploring the key influence African Americans have had in the fields of “visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.” We’ll be featuring a title every day through the month of February.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History discusses this years theme stating, “African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world. In 2024, we examine the varied history and life of African American arts and artisans.”

Todays work is Evie Shockley’s Suddenly 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.

perched

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

Stay tuned for a new book tomorrow!