[10/15/24] Hughes, E.: Ankle-Deep in Pacific Water

[10/15/24] Hughes, E.: Ankle-Deep in Pacific Water

Regular price $17.00 Sale

Haymarket Books, paperback

Publication Date: October 15, 2024

Publisher Marketing: A debut collection of lyric poems interrogating the generational implications of the Great Migration to Northern California. Ankle-Deep in Pacific Water, a debut collection by E. Hughes, marries personal narrative with historical excavation to articulate the intricacies of Black familial love, life, and pain. Tracing the experiences of a southern Black family, their migration to the San Francisco Bay area, and the persistent anti-Blackness there (despite the state's insistence that it is/was not involved in the US' projects of imperialism or chattel slavery), Hughes illuminates the intersections of history, grief, and violence.

At the book's heart is "The Accounts of Mammy Pleasant," a persona poem written from the perspective of the formerly enslaved abolitionist and financier Mary Ellen Pleasant who is thought to have helped fund John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. Alongside this historical account, Hughes deftly weaves in the story of a contemporary Black family navigating the generational trauma resulting from the Great Migration: domestic violence and racialized violence, familial love and loyalty, the work of parenting, and the work of being a child. Ankle-Deep in Pacific Water reveals in its pages that, while many things have changed over time, ultimately the question of what "freedom" meant and looked like for Black people in the early 20th century retains the same murkiness and contradictions for Black people today.