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.