The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

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The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

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If you do get a chance to visit, I hope you’re pleasantly surprised and feel welcomed throughout your stay. In the very next line of the poem ‘If Only Out Of Vanity’, Chin says, ‘I want to be the girl your parents will use as a bad example of a lady’. This resonates very much in a same, but different way; travelling as a single mum with a young child. To believe in the progress of the victimised is to believe that only now have they advanced to the point of deserving greater inclusion.

The poems tell of a fat black woman's trials and tribulations, as well as her moments of triumph in a foreign land.I am wholly persuaded by Simon Gikandi’s argument that the Western culture of aesthetics was profoundly affected by the institution of slavery. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. As a plus size woman, I also loved the travel tips – especially travelling with your own seat extender when there can be so much shame around asking for one. Even Walcott did – he who was so often seen as the most English of us, the Caribbean poet most comfortable to embrace Western tradition. The Fat Black Woman privileges excess – though even this word ‘excess’ might be problematic for the Fat Black Woman.

Still it surprised me how, given voice, the poem was such a different animal from how it sat tamely on the page. A common attitude here in Europe is that you, as a Black American, are fine but them, the recent immigrants from African countries, are not and at least in Italy, those people will often sell things on the streets, have bad living conditions… I have no idea how it is in Croatia, mostly the touristy places try to hide all that but that might be something the average whit person won’t notice. In comparison, the sorts of sights offered in such places as Africa and America, though undoubtedly very exciting, would, I am sure, strike the objective viewer as inferior on account of their unseemly demonstrativeness.These are the ways we support Cup of Jo, and allow us to run the site and engage with this community we truly love. I received a diferente cover than the one in the product page but, to be honest, I rather prefer mine! Grace Nichols gives us images that stare us straight in the eye, images of joy, challenge, accusation. Ideals that we still hold in such esteem today – ideas of restraint and subtlety and quiet, were in fact counterpoints to the perception of the enslaved black body. NOT SO GOOD BITS: I wish there had been a foreward or introduction, as I didn’t know much about Grace Nichols and would’ve enjoyed some context.



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