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A tour de force of prose style, Holler is poet Danielle Chapman's moving and provocative portrait of her Southern, military childhood -- and an unflinching reckoning with what such an inheritance means now. A crucial book for anyone with a racial conscience in today's divided America, Holler is one woman's account of "the miraculous catastrophe" of being human in an inhumane world, and proof that it's possible to fully face who we are while searching for forgiveness.
Holler begins with Chapman's father's death, in a scuba diving accident in Okinawa, which she witnessed at age three. Brought back to the States by her father's father, the former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Chapman soon finds herself in the family's ancestral farmhouse in Tennessee -- a tavern built in 1790 and later an antebellum farm. There, Chapman encounters the pungent atmospheres of her Confederate forebears, and a living cast of Southern eccentrics and WWII warhorses, forcing her to confront America's racism and its wars. She enters her Gen X adolescence on fire with liberal outrage, but bewildered by "what to do about it." It's only as an adult, returning to her memories after decades working as a poet and a professor, that Chapman is able to tell the stories that made her childhood -- turning up the depth of their sins, their sufferings, their humor, and their grace.
Chapman's second collection of poetry, Boxed Juice, is forthcoming from Unbound Edition Press in 2024.