Northwestern University Press, hardcover
Publication Date: April 17, 2023
Publisher Marketing: The latest collection from award-winning poet Vievee Francis, The Shared World imagines the ideas and ideals and spaces of the Black woman. The book delves into inherited memories and restrictions between families, lovers, and strangers and the perception and inconvenient truth of Black woman as mother--with or without child. Francis challenges the ways in which Black women are often dismissed while expected to be nurturing. This raw assemblage of poetic narratives stares down the oppressors from within and writes a new language in the art of taking back the body and the memory. These poetic narratives are brutal in their lyrical blows but tender with the bruised history left behind. "You can't stop this / song," she writes. "More hands than yours have closed / around my throat."
Francis's lyric gifts are on full display as she probes self-discovery, history, intimacy, and violence. Her voice encompasses humor and gravity, enigma and revelation. What emerges is a realm of intertwined experiences. "The secret to knowing the secret is to speak," she concludes, "but we too often tell / the stories of no matter and avoid the one story that does matter. / In truth, we are bound by one story, so you'd think by now / we'd tell it, at least to each other."