news | Wednesday February 7, 2024

It's Black History Month!

This February, we’d like to share three absolutely stellar titles – current, past, and forthcoming – by Black authors. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

A 2023 poetry collection we absolutely love is Song & Dread by award-winning author Otoniya J. Okot Bitek. This keenly observant collection looks at the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Song & Dread keeps its gaze faced outward, the narrator observes not just her immediate community but as structures of inequality that were and in many ways still are being exacerbated by the pandemic. From “Pi Day 16”:

“now they’re calling it the feminist virus
because it kills more men than it does women
because the uk metro headline announces
woman with family locked down in italy
poses naked with face masks to urge
everyone to be safe

another woman dreams of her family some dead
some alive some she may never see again
somewhere somewhere a group of women
are in a factory producing 50k masks a day in lockdown
& the cbc news clip ends with
they care more for patriotism
than for their own families”

Pick up your copy of Song & Dread here.

If you haven’t yet checked out this amazing play from the vault, Consecrated Ground by the late George Boyd retells the struggle of Africville’s residents to save their homes and their dignity. With tremendous wit and gravity, George Boyd takes us back to Africville on the verge of extinction, making us a gift of characters believable in their vulnerabilities, their courage and their outrage. From Consecrated Ground:

WILLEM

You sole yer place? (He chuckles.) That’s a good one! Like

somebody’s gonna buy a place in Africville? Jimmy there’s some

miracles even Jesus can’t make happen. (He starts lifting his bucket.)

Unless you gonna be serious, I gotta get me goin’.

JIMMY

I-I-I is s-s-serious, Willem. I-I-I … is!

WILLEM

Well who bought it?

JIMMY

(Blurting.) The city!!

WILLEM halts abruptly.

WILLEM

The city?

JIMMY

Uh-hunh …

WILLEM

Now what’s the city want with this ol’ piece

a land?

Order your copy of Consecrated Ground here.

Finally, coming this spring we have a new play from Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton. Redbone Coonhound follows interracial couple, Mike and Marissa, who meet a dog with an unfortunate breed name: Redbone coonhound. This small detail unleashes a cascading debate between them about race and their relationship that manifests as a series of micro-plays, each satirizing contemporary perspectives on modern culture. Watch this space for more details about this brilliant play!

We hope your Black History Month is full of great reads and great art.