An African American blog of politics, culture, and social activism.
DaMaris B. Hill is a doctoral student in the English-Creative Writing Program at the University of Kansas. She is a member of the National Writing Project and graduate of Morgan State University with a MA degree in English. Her story “On the Other Side of Heaven – 1957″ won the 2003 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award for Short Fiction. Eager to express the lives and accomplishments of underrepresented women, she is currently writing a novel about female juvenile delinquents during the Great Depression and working on a chat book of poetry. The majority of her poetry is spiritually based and addresses issues of gender, race and identity in a Capitalistic society. Her fiction frames issues race and gender within the context of capitalism and marginalization in various settings around the globe. Some of her writing has been published with the Bermuda Anthology of Poetry, African American National Biography Project, Warpland, Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy, Women in Judaism and The Sable Quill. She recently served as the co-coordinator of the 2008 NWP, Professional Writing Retreat anthology. In addition to her graduate studies, she serves as the Collections Specialist for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas.
Considerations: Colored Amazons
This series of poems are based on the book Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910 by Dr. Kali Nicole Gross, Associate Professor & Director of Africana Studies at Drexel University. I was so genuinely moved by the triumphs and tragedies these women experienced within the justice system that I am attempting to memorialize some of their experiences. Most of the poems are in formal verse and attempt to create a first person testimony. Other poems that do not create first person testimonies blend the blues tradition with the traditional poetic forms.
On April 22, 1885, Cutler shot and killed her ex-lover, William H. Knight. Cutter’s case offers unprecedented insight into working-class black women’s values and their feelings of turmoil and powerlessness.
- Kali N. Gross
The Concession of Annie Cutler
Dear Mama, I must go with Knight. I am hell bound.
Bury me in a white box and my wedding gown.
A remnant of disaster, this grief corsets
My sorrows. Pinch and ball snag in this bride’s gown.
The tongue I praised God with was laid upon
Henry. Blasphemy. Betrayal. My gown.
Mama, I swallowed the bitter syrup of angels
Unborn as he lingered round my night gown.
I sipped a tea of pennyroyal, primrose
and blue/black cohosh* before this gown.
Mother. I tasted the bitterness of
three souls, enlivened sacrifices. My gown
Donned with fading blood stains. Shame suffocates
My image like the bodice of my gown.
Mama, bury me in a white box coffin. Cover it
in earth. The darkness bequeathed this bride’s gown,
Pulled to hell in passion’s chariots. I will be radiant
Veiled in vengeance and the singed scorn of a bridal gown,
Once white laced adorned with pearls of piety.
The rage smoldering beneath my gratuitous gown
Of rejection and the fallacy of Henry’s promises.
I am forsaken as his bride processions in a white gown.
Her lips plump with smiles and secrets that once belonged to me.
She a fine portrait of domesticity framed and fringed in her gown
Round with his child, the glee of Henry. Fury engulfs me; I am
A picture of ruined antiquity, an abandoned Venus in a torn gown.
Mama, I choose Hell to be my grand ball of debauchery
And will stand honorably as the flames feast on my bride’s gown.
I, Annie Cutler, Juliet of Henry Knight, will kill him and myself
For spite. Please bury me in a white box and my bride’s gown.
*herbal abortion recipe
Copyright 2009 DaMaris Hill