Friday, July 17, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Say Her Name

This is SUCH an important book, and it is incredibly humbling to realize that I am not the intended audience. What a (white) privilege it is, that for almost all of my life I could open any book and find some version of me or a life somewhat like mine between the covers. As I read this book, I humbly looked over the shoulder of my BIPOC students and colleagues to read the "Poems to Empower" that were written with them in mind.

In the acknowledgements, Zetta Elliott shares that discovering Black women writers was a recent experience for her, too, but a very different experience from mine: "When you realize that your small, soft voice is actually part of a chorus, you begin to sing with more confidence." From the introduction: "We do have allies, but some days it feels like all we have is each other. This book of poetry is for us. I love us."

The book begins with a trio of haiku, and then every seven (or so) poems there is another set of three haiku. I love how these three short punches slow the reader down to breathe and process. After the final three haiku, there are notes for many of the poems that illuminate Elliott's mentors (Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, James Brown, James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Gwendolyn Brooks [her two poems inspired by "We Real Cool" are AMAZING], and many others).

Here is the final haiku:

stop killing us stop
killing us stop killing us
stop killing us STOP

©Zetta Elliott, 2020

This book is best suited for middle school and high school students, and adults.

Jan has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Bookseed Studio.


  1. Another book to add to my TBR list.

  2.! Thanks so much for the tip.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I love Zetta's children's book BIRD. I'm adding this one to my reading list.

  4. Thanks for the introduction to this book. Glad books like this exist and are getting attention - long overdue.

  5. Thanks for sharing this book. Headed to my library site now. It's one I want to read.

  6. Looking forward to Zetta Elliott's book! Thanks for sharing it, and her powerful poem.

  7. Thanks for sharing this!


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