Poems that stick with you like a song that won't stop repeating itself in your brain, poems whose cadences burrow into your bloodstream, orchestrating your breathing long before their sense attaches its hooks to your heart.
“Poems that stick with you like a song that won’t stop repeating itself in your brain, poems whose cadences burrow into your bloodstream, orchestrating your breathing long before their sense attaches its hooks to your heart.”
—Washington Post on Captivity
Toi Derricotte's poems show us our underlife, tender and dreadful. And they are vibrant poems, poems in the voice of the living creature, the one who escaped—and paused, and turned back, and saw, and cried out. This is one of the most beautiful and necessary voices in American poetry today.
Derricotte's words touch the reader as life has touched her, soul and body. This is a strong, sensuous, original, courageous book.
In plain language that does not settle for simplicity or cliche, these poems probe being at its root—sexually, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually—and recount how violence, both physical and mental, ravages the self.
This is a personal, moving work about child abuse, racial 'passing,' and women making art, and will attract all readers interested in these topics.
Let the reader of 'The Undertaker's Daughter' beware—it may make you burn to exorcise your own lifelong fears, and replace them with freedom. But you will have to find your own way, as Derricotte has.
Toi Derricotte is the author The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections: The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, and a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.