Cheryl Boyce-Taylor Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3602.O9275A77 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Finalist, 2018 Paterson Poetry Prize
ARRIVAL is a poetic love story between mother and daughter. The poems are road maps, intertwining generations with a narrative beginning in 1950 with a woman who is pregnant with twins. In her seventh month she delivers a stillborn boy and a baby girl weighing less than two pounds. From there, the evocation of a series of catastrophic family events brings forth Cheryl Boyce-Taylor’s power to strip her readers down to their most vulnerable. Boyce-Taylor is steeped in the narratives of Trinidad and New York City, colored with metaphorical stew-pot images. She revels in her lyrical range as she weaves these poetic retellings of family, place, and identity.
We Are Not Wearing Helmets is a collection of political love poems rendered through the eyes of Cheryl Boyce‑Taylor, an immigrant living in New York City. For many women of color, aging in America means experiencing a lack of proper medical treatment, inhumane living conditions, poor nutrition, and often isolation. Many seniors feel thrown away, useless, and vulnerable. These poems challenge the injustices of ageism, racism, and oppression with rage, forgiveness, honor, and endurance. During these rough political times, they are salve and balm.
Born in Trinidad and having grown up in Queens, Boyce‑Taylor creates a framework for her own experience out of the life experiences and work of beloved Black women in history. She salutes the women who have lifted her, including Audre Lorde, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ntozake Shange, and Winnie Mandela, as well as her mother, Eugenia Boyce, and her beloved daughter‑in‑law, Deisha Head Taylor.
The poems in this collection are unapologetic, fierce, and confrontational while remaining caring and intimate. They stand strong in the face of adversity and boldly demand what is owed while still honoring and cherishing what is loved.