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Charis welcomes Hafizah Augustus Geter in conversation with Maya Marshall for a discussion of The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin. An acclaimed poet reclaims her origin story as the queer daughter of a Muslim Nigerian immigrant and a Black American visual artist in this groundbreaking memoir, combining lyrical prose, biting criticism, and haunting visuals.
At nineteen, she lost her mother to a sudden stroke. Weeks later, her father became so heartsick that he needed a triple bypass. By her thirties, she was constantly in pain, pinballing between physical therapy appointments, her grief, and the grind that is the American Dream. Hafizah realized she'd spent years internalizing the narratives that white supremacy had fed her about herself. Suddenly, she says, I was standing at the cliff of my own life, remembering.
Recalling her parents’ lessons on the art of Black revision, and mixing history, political analysis, and cultural criticism, alongside stunning original artwork created by her father, renowned artist Tyrone Geter, Hafizah maps out her own narrative, weaving between a childhood populated with Southern and Nigerian relatives; her days in a small Catholic school; a loving but tragically short relationship with her mother; and the feelings of joy and community that the Black Lives Matter protests engendered in her as an adult. All throughout, she forms a new personal and collective history, addressing the systems of inequity that make life difficult for non-able-bodied persons, queer people, and communities of color while capturing a world brimming with potential, art, music, hope, and love.
A unique combination of gripping memoir and Afrofuturist thought, in The Black Period, Hafizah manages to sidestep shame, confront disability, embrace forgiveness, and emerge from the erasures America imposes to exist proudly and unabashedly as herself.
Hafizah Augustus Geter is a Nigerian American writer, poet, and literary agent born in Zaria, Nigeria, and raised in Akron, Ohio, and Columbia, South Carolina. She is the author of the poetry collection Un-American, an NAACP Image Award and PEN Open Book Award finalist. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Bomb, The Believer, The Paris Review, among many others. The poetry committee co-chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, she is a Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless nonfiction fellow, a Cave Canem poetry fellow, and a 92Y Women inPower Fellow and holds an MFA in nonfiction from New York University, where she was an Axinn Fellow. Hafizah lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Maya Marshall is the author of chapbook Secondhand and cofounder of underbelly, a journal on the practical magic of poetic revision. She has earned fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Callaloo, Watering Hole, Community of Writers and Cave Canem. Marshall previously served as artist-in-residence at Northwestern University and as faculty for Loyola University. She is the 2021-2023 Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University. Maya Marshall is the author of All the Blood Involved in Love.
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Acclaimed poet Hafizah Augustus Geter reclaims her origin story in this “lyrical memoir” (The New Yorker)—combining biting criticism and haunting visuals.
Poems shimmering with lyricism ask who can inherit a country?
2021 PEN Open Book Finalist
2021 NAACP Image Award Finalist, Poetry
2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, Longlist
Maya Marshall is a formidable emerging poet. With this debut, she joins a vital literary heritage of Black poets whose stewardship rivals their written contributions. Comparable titles: The Black Unicorn Audre Lorde; Seeing The Body Rachel Eliza Griffths, Horsepower Joy Priest, etc.