Gumbo Ya Ya

Some writers write poetry to flex what they can do. Aurielle Marie writes reckoning poems themselves come to work. Gumbo Ya Ya kicks with this lit lit magic, this insistent electricity, pages that sweat ink, bleed it, weep it, drip it. Aurielle Marie will cuss, but an Aurielle Marie poem can curse; what she has seen, felt, or known, is trans-amplified in the room she gives the poem to do what it’s gonna do. Gumbo Ya Ya is Aurielle Marie’s Dirty-Dirty grimoire drawn from a vernacular trickbag at once up to something and down for whatever. These poems are spell weaving. They are bound to work you.
Douglas Kearney, Cave Canem Poetry Prize judge
Winner of the 2020 Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Gumbo Ya Ya, Aurielle Marie’s stunning debut, is a cauldron of hearty poems exploring race, gender, desire, and violence in the lives of Black gxrls, soaring against the backdrop of a contemporary South. These poems are loud, risky, and unapologetically rooted in the glory of Black gxrlhood. The collection opens with a heartrending indictment of injustice. What follows is a striking reimagination of the world, one where no Black gxrl dies “by the barrel of the law” or “for loving another Black gxrl.” Part familial archival, part map of Black resistance, Gumbo Ya Ya catalogs the wide gamut of Black life at its intersections, with punching cultural commentary and a poetic voice that holds tenderness and sharpness in tandem. It asks us to chew upon both the rich meat and the tough gristle, and in doing so we walk away more whole than we began and thoroughly satisfied.

Excerpt from “transhistorical for the x in my gxrls”

What I mean is, this country is mine
if only because from my mouth I spit its loam
and unspun a noose. I won’t exploit the only
metaphor they gave us willingly, and instead hunt for
other vicious things to make a muse. I earned this country.
I owe it nothing. With my infinite, infant hand, I manipulated
a death sentence into a compound-complex one.
from the umbilical, I bled a life worth writing down and in
a century’s time, there will be another word created still
for the weeping magic of this same story: a Black gxrl’s first breath.

120 Pages, 7 x 9 in.

September, 2021

isbn : 9780822966661

about the author

Aurielle Marie

Aurielle Marie is a Black and queer essayist, poet, and cultural strategist hailing from the Deep South. A 2019 Ploughshares Emerging Writer award recipient, she’s received invitations to fellowships from many literary institutions, including Lambda Literary, VONA Voices, and Tin House. Her work is featured in TriQuarterly, Southeast Review, Black Warrior, and other journals. Aurielle Marie writes and speaks about Blackness, bodies, sex, and pop culture from a Black feminist lens.

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Aurielle Marie