Testify, Simone John's first full-length book of poems, experiments with documentary poetics to uplift stories of black people impacted by state-sanctioned violence. The book's first section weaves Rachel Jeantel's testimony in the Trayvon Martin trial with Kendrick Lamar lyrics, fixed form and found poems, and personal artifacts. The second section centers on the audio of the dashboard recording that captured Sandra Bland's fatal police encounter. Excerpts from this exchange are punctuated with elegies for other dead black women, creating a larger commentary about race and gender- based violence. Testify is ultimately a book of witness. It "burdens" its readers "with knowing." Combined, both chapters serve as an unflinching critique of race and gender supremacy in the United States.
The speaker in Cape Verdean Blues is an oracle walking down the street. Shauna Barbosa interrogates encounters and the weight of their space. Grounded in bodily experience and the phenomenology of femininity, this collection provides a sense of Cape Verdean identity. It uniquely captures the essence of “Sodade,” as it refers to the Cape Verdean American experience, and also the nostalgia and self-reflection one navigates through relationships lived, lost, and imagined. And its layers of unusual imagery and sound hold the reader in their grip.