Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood (Hardcover)
A Netgalley "Must-Read Books by Black Authors in 2022"
From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing comes a new book of narrative in verse that takes a personal and historical look at the experience of Black girlhood.
In Breath Better Spent, DaMaris B. Hill hoists her childhood self onto her shoulders, together taking in the landscape of Black girlhood in America. At a time when Black girls across the country are increasingly vulnerable to unjust violence, unwarranted incarceration, and unnoticed disappearance, Hill chooses to celebrate and protect the girl she carries, using the narrative-in-verse style of her acclaimed book A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing to revisit her youth. There, jelly sandals, Double Dutch beats, and chipped nail polish bring the breath of laughter; in adolescence, pomegranate lips, turntables, and love letters to other girls’ boyfriends bring the breath of longing. Yet these breaths cannot be taken alone, and as she carries her childhood self through the broader historical space of Black girls in America, Hill is forced to grapple with expression in a space of stereotype, desire in a space of hyper-sexuality, joy in a space of heartache.
Paying homage to prominent Black female figures from Zora Neale Hurston to Whitney Houston and Toni Morrison, Breath Better Spent invites you to walk through this landscape, too, exploring the spaces—both visible and invisible—that Black girls occupy in the national imagination, taking in the communal breath of girlhood, and asking yourself: In a country like America, what does active love and protection of Black girls look like?
About the Author
DaMaris B. Hill, PhD, is the author of A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, an NAACP Image Award Finalist; The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage and Jim Crow: Staking Claims in the American Heartland; and a collection of poetry, \Vi-ze-bel\ \Teks-chers\(Visible Textures). As with her creative process, Hill's scholarly research is interdisciplinary. An Associate professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky and a former service member of the United States Air Force, she lives in Kentucky. www.damarishill.com
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“Urgent…luminous….Between sparkling homages to famous Black women like Aretha Franklin and poems that proclaim and mourn the loss of missing and murdered Black girls, Hill situates her own reckoning with Black girlhood…readers are lucky to be with her in these outstanding pages.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[A] moving narrative-in-verse ode to the innocence, wonder and complexities of Black girlhood.” —Ms. Magazine
"Through the lens of history and her own memories, DaMaris B. Hill explores Black girlhood. Hill pays homage to women such as Toni Morrison, centers stories of missing Black women and girls, and shares her own stories in a collection that combines poetry, essays, and photographs." - We Are Bookish, A Netgalley "Must-Read Books by Black Authors in 2022"
“With a lyricism that sings, swings, and stings, poet and writer Hill reflects on black women who resisted violent racism and misogyny.” —Booklist on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING, starred review, “Top Ten Diverse Nonfiction of the Year”
“[A] bitter, unflinching history that artfully captures the personas of these captivating, bound yet unbridled African-American women.” —The Rumpus on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING, “What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Black History”
“DaMaris B. Hill writes the poetry of the bound black woman across the ages in this haunting, powerful collection. What you will read here is not just poetry, though. This book offers an education. This book bears witness. This book is a reckoning.” —Roxane Gay on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING
“Stunning. It feels as if I have been waiting for this book my whole life. It's a call and response, a poetic dialogue, a deep honoring of all that Black women have endured and created and inspired. The voices Hill has found embody the women in her book with heart and allow us to know them in their essence. This is a brave, brilliant, beautiful account of love. Unforgettable.” —V (formerly Eve Ensler) on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING
“Honest, intelligent, brutal, the poems in A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing will not soothe or temper the weight of a violent misogynistic history. Instead, they serve as a much-needed resurrection. DaMaris B. Hill is a brilliant poet historian who has created an important lyrical excavation that's never been more necessary.” —National Book Award Finalist Ada Limón on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING
“This book challenged me to reconsider what I knew of American history. Hill has crafted an indelible affirmation of the power of women, Black women in particular, in rich verse that is at once a history, a reckoning, a balm, and call to empathy and action.” —Mitchell S. Jackson, Whiting Award-winning author of THE RESIDUE YEARS and SURVIVAL MATH, on A BOUND WOMAN IS A DANGEROUS THING
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