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Un-American (Hardback)

P&S History > Humanities > Poetry

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages: 104
ISBN: 9780819579805
Published: 8th September 2020
Casemate UK Academic

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Testimony

for Tamir Rice, 2002-2014

 

Mr. President,

After they shot me they tackled my sister.

The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk

made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.

Like when you love someone

and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried

all through science class and wouldn't tell anyone why.

This isn't even my first letter to you,

in the first one I told you about my room

and my favorite basketball team

and asked you to come visit me in Cleveland

or send your autograph. In the second one

I thanked you for your responsible citizenship.

I hope you are proud of me too.

Mom said you made being black beautiful again

but that was before someone killed Trayvon.

After that came a sadness so big it made everyone

look the same. It was a long time before we could

go outside again. Mr. President it took one whole day

for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark

I didn't know there could be so much of it

or so many other boys here.

 

Dancing between lyric and narrative, Hafizah Geter's debut collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes - linguistic, cultural, racial, familial - of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you. Through her mother's death and her father's illnesses, Geter weaves the natural world into the discourse of grief, human interactions, and socio-political discord. This collection thrums with authenticity and heart.

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