How do you gain access to the
power of parts of yourself you
abhor, and make them sing
with beauty, tenderness, and compassion?
This is a record of fifty years
of victories in the reclamation
of a poet’s voice.
The story of Toi Derricotte is a hero’s odyssey. It is the journey of a poetic voice that in each book earns her way to home, to her own commanding powers.
“I”: New and Selected Poems shows the reader both the closeness of the enemy and the poet’s inherent courage, inventiveness, and joy. It is a record of one woman’s response to the repressive and fracturing forces around the subjects of race, class, color, gender, and sexuality. Each poem is an act of victory, finding a path through repressive forces to speak with both beauty and truth.
This collection features more than thirty new poems as well as selections from five of Derricotte’s previously published books of poetry.
“The new poems in Toi Derricotte’s collection ‘I’ reveal that she has entered an entire new sphere as a poet, in which the struggles fall away and the spirits take her hands and float her forward. After years of wrestling with her demons, Derricotte has awakened--enlightened, serene, truth coming to her, through her, so casually. She has earned this grace with all her hard work, suffering and love.”
“What song do you sing when you sing ‘so low we can't hear you?’ Toi Derricotte makes poetry of that song. It rises from ‘the houses where you hear the least squealing,’ it is ‘quieter than blossoms & near invisible.’ It is filled with witness and love for our literal and literary families.”
"No writer I know of explores with more honesty the sorrows and wonders and joys and shames and tenderness of being alive. No writer is more tender. And no poems I know of make me feel witnessed, held, beheld, the way Derricotte’s do. Her poems behold us. I am so grateful for these poems. I am so grateful for Derricotte’s beautiful heart."
This retrospective volume unflinchingly explores the author’s complex experiences as a light-skinned black woman in America.
Derricotte’s attention lingers on places of struggle where life is at its most vibrant, urgent, and surprising.
Toi Derricotte is the author The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections: The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, and a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.learn more