Drawing inspiration from the life of Harriet Tubman, Cynthia Parker-Ohene’s poetic narratives follow a historical arc of consciousness of Black folks: mislaid in potters’ fields and catalogued with other misbegotten souls, now unsettled as the unknown Black denominator. Who loved them? Who turned them away? Who dismembered their souls? In death, they are the institutionalized marked Black bodies assigned to parcels, scourged beneath plastic sheets identified as a number among Harriets as black, marked bodies. These poems speak to how the warehousing of enslaved and somewhat free beings belies their humanity through past performances in reformatories, workhouses, and hospitals for the negro insane. To whom did their Black lives belong? How are Black grrls socialized within the family to be out in the world? What is the beingness of Black women? How have the Harriets—the descended daughters of Harriet Tubman—confronted issues of caste and multiple oppressions? These poems give voice to the unspeakable, the unreachable, the multiple Black selves waiting to become.
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