Toi Derricotte's literary memoir THE BLACK NOTEBOOKS has won a cluster of awards and lots of well-deserved attention. But don't let that distract you from her poems, so far published in four books. Here's one from CAPTIVITY:
My Father Still Sleeping After Surgery
In spite of himself,
my father loved me. In spite
of the hands that beat me, in spite
of the mouth that kept silent, in spite
of the face that turned cruel
as a gold Chinese king,
he could not control the love
that came out of him.
The body is monumental, a colossus
through which he breathes.
His hands crawl over his stomach
jerkily as sand crabs on five legs;
he makes a fist
like the fist of a newborn.
Derricotte is scheduled to read at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, on Monday June 4 at 8 p.m.; the center often changes dates and times, though, so be sure to call ahead to confirm and to reserve your seat: 802-635-2727. Derricotte's 2004 Guggenheim is likely to have given her space for much new work, which she may read. She's also co-founder (with Cornelius Eady) of Cave Canem, which began in 1996 to give African American poets a safe and supportive center from which to spring forward. She'll be teaching there this summer (www.cavecanempoets.org).