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Kin

Poems

Crystal Williams

Publication Year: 2000

In her first book-length collection of poetry, Crystal Williams utilizes memory and music as she lyrically weaves her way through American culture, pointing to the ways in which alienation, loss, and sensed "otherness" are corollaries of recent phenomena. Williams writes about being adopted by an interracial couple, a jazz pianist/Ford Foundry worker and a school psychologist, and how that has affected her development as an African American woman. She tries to work out the answers to many difficult questions: in what way do African American artists define themselves? What do they owe the culture and what does it owe them? To what extent does our combined national memory inform our individual selves? These poems are steeped in the black literary tradition. They are brimming over with the oral tradition that Williams perfected while spending years on the poetry "slam" circuit. This, combined with her musical upbringing, give the collection not only a sense of urgency, but also a rhythm, a breath all its own. Kin tackles not only racial issues, but also the troubling realities of violent acts that can occur, especially in our inner cities. But more importantly, the landscape that Williams creates offers readers an alternative to the racial/political dichotomy in which we all live. Overall, the book resonates with a message of reconciliation that will leave the reader uplifted.

 

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

The following poems or versions of these poems have appeared in: A Gathering of the Tribes ("Once Upon A Time"); African Voices ("Collard Folk"); Beyond the Frontier ("In Search of Aunt Jemima"); Catch the Fire: A Cross-Generational Anthology of African American Poets ("In Search of Aunt Jemima"); Icarus...

rhythm

For the Woman Who Didn’t Know My Name

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pp. 1-

music: one

The Famous Door

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pp. 5-

Prayer

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pp. 6-7

The Masked Woman

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pp. 8-9

At 25, I Have Already Begun to Like Lou Rawls

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pp. 10-11

Yea, Though I Walk

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pp. 12-13

Order of Adoption in the Matter of Minor #44478

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pp. 14-15

music: two

Rites of Passage

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pp. 19-20

Poem for My Sisters

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pp. 21-

A,

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pp. 22-23

Hey A, (Mr. Sausage Lips)

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pp. 24-25

Johnny

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pp. 26-27

Dreadlock

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pp. 28-

Exercise in Tension or Truth or Whatever

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pp. 29-30

“The Cholesterol Can Make You Stupid”

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pp. 31-

Collard Folk

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pp. 32-33

dance

Dr

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pp. 37-38

Benjamin

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pp. 39-40

The Prospect of Tomi-Terre

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pp. 41-42

Curating the Boogie Down

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pp. 43-44

Tour Guiding Our Nation’s Capital

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pp. 45-

Sunday Dinner at Miss Rayella’s

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pp. 46-47

Tower

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pp. 48-

“It Wasn’t Not Funny”

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pp. 49-50

Refrigerator Mouth

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pp. 51-

As On Every Saturday at 12

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pp. 52-53

John Edgar Wideman, Apologies

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pp. 54-55

The First Time I Saw Flo-Jo

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pp. 56-57

Once Upon a Time

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pp. 58-61

Nora

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pp. 62-

Zawadi

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pp. 63-64

oo-bop-she-bam

In Search of Aunt Jemima

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pp. 67-69

Ode of the Hoodoo Woman

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pp. 70-73

Breeze Driftin’ On By

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pp. 74-75

Notes

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pp. 76-

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About the Author

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pp. 77-

Crystal Williams, a native of Detroit, Michigan, holds a B.A. from NYU and a M.F.A. from Cornell University. Her work has been published in journals/anthologies such as Icarus, The Potomac Review, Spectrum, WV, American Poetry: The Next Generation, Catch the Fire, Poetry Nation, and Children of the Dream. She was a member of the 1995...


E-ISBN-13: 9780870139680
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870135484

Page Count: 88
Publication Year: 2000

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