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William Evans, the award-winning poet and cofounder of the popular culture website Black Nerd Problems, offers an emotionally vulnerable poetry collection exploring the themes of inheritances, dreams, and injuries that are passed down from one generation to the next and delving into the lived experience of a black man in the American suburbs today.
In We Inherit What the Fires Left, award-winning poet William Evans embarks on a powerful new collection that explores the lived experience of race in the American suburbs and what dreams and injuries are passed from generation to generation. Fall under the spell of Evans’s boldly intimate, wise, and emotionally candid voice in these urgent, electrifying poems.
This eloquent collection explores not only what these inheritances are composed of, but what price the bearer must pay for such legacies, and the costly tolls exacted on both body and spirit. Evans writes searingly from the perspective of the marginalized, delivering an unflinching examination of what it is like to be a black man raising a daughter in predominantly white spaces, and the struggle to build a home and a future while carrying the weight of the past.
However, in beautiful and quiet scenes of domesticity with his daughter or in thoughtful reflection within himself, Evans offers words of hope to readers, proving that resilience can ultimately bloom even in the face of prejudice. Readers of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hanif Abdurraqib will find a brilliant, fresh new talent to add to their lists in William Evans.
Evans (Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair) poignantly addresses in this vulnerable collection his experience raising his daughter in the suburbs while reckoning with the memory of his own father and childhood. In three titled sections "Grass Growing Wild Beneath Us," "Trespass," and "Aging Out of Someone Else's Dream" Evans recounts the mundane moments of pride and learning that come with fatherhood, as well as the larger systemic threats and legacies of violence that underlie his experience as a black American. In "Waves," his daughter asks a question about the ocean, which brings to mind the slaves forced to cross the Atlantic. The poem closes with acknowledging another threat: "On the ride home, after I have/ quieted the bark, an officer/ pulls us to the side of the road/ and asks me whose car I am driving/ my family home in." In "Pledge to Raising a Black Girl," he asks, "How do you know what you have a taste for// if you've been told never to show your teeth?... The elders want us to raise// girls with a song in their heart, but we only respect/ the classics if they respected us, which is why// if you ask me how I'm doing, I say still breathing." These poems offer sensitive portraits of race and fatherhood and richly explore the past while providing hope for the future.