Wesleyan University Press, 2020
Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly | 2021 PEN Open Book Finalist | 2021 NAACP Image Award Finalist | 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize Longlist
Dancing between lyric and narrative, Hafizah Geter's debut collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes—linguistic, cultural, racial, familial—of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you. Through her mother's death and her father's illnesses, Geter weaves the natural world into the discourse of grief, human interactions, and socio-political discord. This collection thrums with authenticity and heart.
"Geter’s vivid debut invokes the pain of familial dislocation, illness, and death, exacerbated by the twin plagues of xenophobia and racism...It is this violence, captured in rich, musical language, that command such power."
―Publisher's weekly, starred review
Spanning Nigeria and the American South, this debut poetry collection shimmers with incisive revelations about migration, queerness, the American dream, and making a home in a country that refuses to recognize you...Geter is one of 2020’s buzziest poets.
"...a book of testimony. Incisive, devastating poems about what it means to be American, and who gets to be American and who doesn’t."
―rOXANE GAY Recommends 10 Books to Bring You Out of the DarK,
"A remarkable debut that troubles the meaning of 'protection'...an act of transformation that ferries love into poems of unapologetic and enlarging testimony.
―Catherine Barnett, Human Hours
"Like a high lyric conversation overheard...done with attention to what this one beautiful story says about the so-called American story."
―Jericho Brown, The Tradition
“Hafizah Geter sings a complicated song of God, country, and the search for belonging. Each revelation is unbearable. Each revelation is something we should all bear. “
—Tina Chang, HYBRIDA
"Here is the history of this country in all its blood and complication, with all its promise and betrayal. These poems are an accounting, a testimony, a prayer―poems meant to quiet the animal inside us."
―Nick Flynn, I Will Destroy You
"This timely and powerful book speaks to the struggles on two nations, and to the grace of the invincible light of black life."
―Rigoberto González, The book of ruin
"Unflinching and undeniable, these poems edge against exile’s reverberating consequences, and in gorgeous language deliver a trenchant understanding of which worlds one can and cannot inhabit, ever aware of both the power of imagination—and its limits."
―Khadijah Queen, Anodyne
"This gorgeous debut troubles and reshapes notions of belonging against the backdrop of a country obsessed with its own exclusions, erasures, borders, institutions, and violence. Geter's poems simmer original forms of witness and resistance."
―Claudia Rankine, Citizen