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drea brown

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Biography

Originally from St.Louis, drea brown is currently a PhD candidate in African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. her work has appeared in a variety of literary journals most recently Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander and Southern Indiana Review. drea is also the winner of the 2014 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook competition judged by Douglas Kearney. Her chapbook dear girl: a reckoning is set for release in January 2016.  

blurb about dear girl:

Bearing an atavistic witness to the Middle Passage, drea brown ambitiously makes to write the enigmatic Phillis Wheatley’s biopic, but abandons staid biography for a grotesque and hallucinatory fugue. I wondered, with Dear Girl: A Reckoning, is the titular “girl” brown’s addressing of Wheatley or the Passage’s ghosts addressing brown? The collapse of these two poets into each other echoes what historian Stephanie Smallwood refers to as “anomalous intimacies” on slave ships. We see this blending again in the mix of conceptual, then formal references—the horrifying schematic of the Brooks, M. Nourbese Philip's phantasmagoria, anatomical metamorphosis, and Nathaniel Mackey's nubs populate these frequently nightmarish poems rendered in forms traditional (the sonnet), contemporary (the bop), interdisciplinary (the talk-show interview), and experimental (the erasure). Feverishly urgent, vivid, and unironic, Dear Girl: A Reckoning refuses passivity, amnesia, and despair, bringing the bones to our present to begin the work of healing. "The dead will have their due" the author writes. A promise? A threat? A blending.          

 

Poem

flesh memory: an invocation in cento

 

from claudia rankine’s citizen and akilah oliver’s she said dialogues: flesh memory, ntozake shange’s for colored girls who…

 

the world is wrong. you can’t put the past behind you.

it’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard

when you lay your body in the body

entered as if skin and bone were public places

witness bones on the atlantic floor. chiseled faces. short

vowel sounds trapped under centuries of sediment.

when you lay your body in the body

entered as if you’re the ground you walk on

mash potato. child. break it up.

the body’s truth and realities

the multiplicity of languages

the flesh holds

 

what does a victorious

or defeated black woman’s body look like?

are we ghouls?

children of horror?

the joke?

a text, a language, a mythology a truth

 

you know no memory should live

in these memories

 

becoming the body you

don’t tell nobody don’t tell a soul

to live out the days sometimes you moan like deer.

sometimes you sigh.

 

i am trying to be as honest as grief will allow. i am

trying to be saved. i am trying to sin. i am trying

to hush these tears.

 

somebody anybody sing a black girl’s song

 

when you lay your body in the body

becoming the body you

sing her song of life

of infinite beauty

bring her out to know herself

 

when you lay your body in the body

becoming you

i want you to look at these scars

and be healed.

 

sestina: on pyres and shrines

 

black folk die as much and as hard as we live this is not a myth

stars gather like faithful congregants in our passing and wake

what i mean is they shine in memoriam slow-burn seven day candles

one day we will all catch fire burst into phoenix dare to remember

more than this. how to mourn this living, how to mend the body

feed the ghosts hear the ocean how to tend the gaps or live to die and repeat

 

already a pattern always this cyclic hold amnesia this live to die and repeat

the ibo walked home some became fish or flew i want truth in these myths

a language of survival encoded in flesh something sacred divine embodiment

too many stories to pass on when i die i want to dream them all don’t wake

metili speak in a chorus of shine and restoration til i re-member

my selves in constellation handfuls of gone too soon black the sky see my candle

 

when revering the dead prepare the space spread a white cloth place candle

white flowers spring water pictures, handkerchiefs jewelry give honor and repeat

all this black all this matter all this in memory

of pearlie shirley sandra texas

tarika tanisha malissa ohio

cynthia denise carole addie mae

birmingham was not a myth

one morning i will wake

biting jeezus between my teeth because my body

 

has bust into feathers over oakland st. louis because my body

is shimmer-fin in the bayou colorado mississippi light a candle

you cannot wake

the dead when they are waiting repeat

they are waiting there is no myth in this

you are not supposed to remember