Voted one of the Best Books of 2023 by the New York Public Library, Cynthia Manick’s poetry collection personifies love of self and culture through fresh observations and bitter truths voiced with breathtaking lyricism.
No Sweet Without Brine is both a soulful and celebratory collection that summons sticky sweet memories with an acrid aftertaste of deep thought. Satisfying moments are captured in odes to Idris Elba’s dulcet tones on a meditation app and the satisfaction of half-priced Entenmann’s poundcake; in childlike observations of parental Black love, the coveted female form on Jet Magazine covers, and the desire for Zamunda to be a real place full of Black joy. The sour taps into an analysis of reclusiveness, silencing catcalls from men on the street, and detailed recipes and advice to the Black girls forced to endow themselves with armor against the world.
Cynthia Manick’s latest is a playlist of everyday life, introverted thoughts, familial bonds, and social commentary. In piercing language, she traces the circle of life for a narrator who dares to exist between youthful remembrances and adulthood realities. Each poem in No Sweet Without Brine is a reminder that a hint of sorrow makes the celebration and recognition of the glory of Blackness in all ways, and through all people, that much sweeter.
Cynthia Manick is the winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, editor of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry, and author of Blue Hallelujahs. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among other foundations. Manick is the creator of the Soul Sister Revue reading series and her poem “Things I Carry into the World” was made into a film by Motionpoems and debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month. A storyteller and performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and most recently the Brooklyn and Frye museums, Manick and her work has been featured in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Callaloo, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. She currently serves on the board of the International Women’s Writing Guild and the editorial board of Alice James Books. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“These are exuberant, engaging poems composed with confidence and flair. I loved this book from beginning to end. Some real standouts include 'Rx for Little Black Girls,' 'We Make Sin a Good Hymn,' and 'Ode to JET Magazine' but really it’s all outstanding, intelligent, referential in interesting ways.”
— —Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger