Charnell Peters’ debut poetry chapbook explores the reality of blackness in Middle America while simultaneously reclaiming her female identity in an elegant complexity new to Thirty West. She is the winner of the 2018 TW Chapbook Contest.
Limited edition: 200gsm recycled pastel cover (made in India) adorned with imitation gold leaf augments and sewn with 100% hemp cord.
Package: Limited edition copy plus a previous Thirty West title and (2) broadsides.
Charnell Peters is a poet who can “firesing the stones/in [our] stomachs to dust.” Don’t believe it? Read “An Uncertain Map of How I Got Raced.” Read this whole book from beginning to end, then read it again. “The Only Two Things I Gotta Do/is be black and die./In the meantime I’ll stop/and consider…,” she writes, and as I consider alongside her, I’m consistently stunned by the journey and the guide. This debut(!) comprises bodies, hands “tendon-rippling,” and finally whole histories—elegiac, funny, tender, powerful—realized in a singular new voice from Middle America I didn’t know how much I needed.
—Daniel Bowman Jr., author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country; Editor-in-Chief, Relief: A Journal of Art & Faith; associate professor of English, Taylor University
Un-becoming is a collection that we need. Both skin and strength are at the very core of Charnell Peters’ gorgeous debut, which presents a body that becomes and “un-becomes” throughout various stages of girlhood, womanhood, and over the course of human history. Even when Peters’ speaker is transported outside the realm of her own body, history, written from a white man’s perspective is confronted. What remains a constant is the black body, as the poet gradually deconstructs form to confront these histories. The speaker sees her own skin in every facet, every corner, or in Peters’ own words, “what are we but edges, / made and unmade / by the waters of our mouths?”
—Dorothy Chan, Editor-in-Chief of The Southeast Review, Author of Attack of the Fifty Foot Centerfold and Chinatown Sonnets