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What Yellow Sounds Like

What is most compelling about Linda Susan Jackson's debut collection of poems, ""What Yellow Sounds Like"", is the extraordinary self-possession of its young female narrator as she seeks to answer who am I and to whom do I belong? These poems are about the process of shaping the identity of one girl who comes from ""a line of technicolor women"" who have ""honey/suckle buried freely in the folds of their flesh,"" a girl who comes from ""men who bit their tongues/ate dirt, dust and their pride, worked anywhere"", and could ""soar off the ground."" The terrain of Jackson's poems is particular, perilous, loving, humorous, passionate, uncompromising, contradictory - in other words, vastly human. The language is varied and inflected with the blues, and like the blues, pulls readers in through images and details that are both concrete and symbolic. Poem after poem charts the stages of this young girl's development through her relationships with her family, her history, and the America into which she is born that is defined by race, skin color, gender, and class. The narrator develops a profound and essential connection to the legendary singer, Etta James, the ""canary colored blues woman"" and she recognizes the power in the sound of words as she recollects how Etta James ""churned up her roar/to keep other women from dying."" Near the end of the book, her great-grandmother tells her ""Everything don't need to be told. Some things must."" In this moment, the narrator is empowered to decide what to tell and to tell it in her own voice. These poems celebrate the sheer will and determination of the self to seek out and find who or what it needs to grow and prosper.
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About the Author

Linda Susan Jackson is the author of two chapbooks, Vitelline Blues (2002) and A History of Beauty (2001), both published by Black-eyed Susan Publishing. She was also a finalist in the 2006 National Poetry Series Open Competition. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals, including Gathering Ground, Heliotrope, Los Angeles Review, Rivendell, Warpland, Brilliant Corners, PMS:poemmemoirstory, Brooklyn Review 20 & 21, Cave Canem VII & VIII, African Voices, and was featured on From the Fishouse audio archive. She is an assistant professor and deputy chair of the English department at Medgar Evers College/CUNY in Brooklyn, New York.

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