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In each issue of BUST, Amber Tamblyn reviews a book of poetry. From our Spring 2020 issue, here's her review of Lilith, But Dark by Nichole Perkins.

Nichole Perkins has written a beautifully aching and illuminating portrait of a Black woman’s life in her essential collection, Lilith, But Dark (Publishing Genius Press). These poems shine on every page, whether in the shadows or in the light of life’s most extreme circumstances, including family violence, love, longing, and the gloom of loss. In “Athena of Nashville” she writes, “One day I’ll split my father’s skull/and he will see me as a warrior./Men will chase me, paint my skirts gold./My father’s appetites will shrink him./I was born armored against his loss,/but my shield hangs too loosely.” And in the poem, “Revenant,” Perkins writes on the sobering truth of lost love: “I don’t visit graveyards after the funerals—/The buried don’t care.” Perkins has a uniquely powerful way of drawing the reader in by speaking directly to the heart that is sparked in all of us; the kindled wanting of humanity. Her words light a match—honor all the ways in which we have grieved, hoped, and sung our ways to a better, other side.

 

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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