Charis welcomes Donika Kelly in conversation with Nikky Finney for a celebration of The Renunciations: Poems. In this gorgeous and heartrending second collection by the award-winning poet Donika Kelly, we find the home that one builds inside oneself after reckoning with a legacy of trauma—a home whose construction starts “with a razing". This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.
Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and, in adulthood, the breakdown of a marriage, Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear. With the companionship of “the oracle”—an observer of memory who knows how each close call with oblivion ends—the act of remembrance becomes curative, and personal mythologies give way to a future defined less by wounds than by possibility. The Renunciations is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma.
Donika Kelly is the author of Bestiary, winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for poetry, and the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She teaches at the University of Iowa.
Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She is the author of On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The World Is Round, and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. Her new collection of poems, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, was released from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 2020.
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An extraordinary collection of endurance and transformation by the award-winning author of Bestiary
Donika Kelly's fierce debut collection, longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award and winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize
I thought myself lion and serpent. Thought
myself body enough for two, for we.
Found comfort in never being lonely.
What burst from my back, from my bones, what lived
Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry
Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry is a twenty-first-century paean to the sterling love songs humming throughout four hundred years of black American life.
When Trina Sims and Jenny Bryan first meet, they don't relate well to each other. Jenny is troubled, struggling to escape personal demons, and somewhat close-minded, the result of living in a racist town. Trina is a proud Black woman, ambitious, strong-willed, and unafraid to speak her mind.