Diverse and inherently political as the people of the African diaspora whom it celebrates, Black Cotton is a masterful showcase from a queer, black poet whose cross-continental writing and performances have been described as ‘a visceral and sonic world of teeth and tornadoes’. Kindred to Sea Sharp’s prize-winning debut, The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut (2017), and also deeply rooted in the poet’s native Kansas, Black Cotton swoops over the untamed Atlantic to look at the woolly ways intolerance flourishes. In detangling intergenerational trauma, Black Cotton softens the damage caused by internalised oppression, exposing the shame of normative whiteness. As the opening poem suggests, this voluminous collection is so much more than just a ‘reasonable apology for lookin’ like that’. Rather, it takes the reader by the short and curlies, an unflinching, uncompromising effort to illuminate how we mistreat each other and ourselves. Dangerously vulnerable like wisps of afro-textured hair, the poems of Black Cotton shed delicate strands of truth for any ambitious reader itching to comb through these unruly pages.
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