The Listening Skin
Hewing close to the bone, the incendiary poems in The Listening Skin explore how an artist dares to dance and create through a pain-riddled body. Corporeal and spiritual, immediately personal and deeply historical, Redmond’s latest collection details how generational cycles of poverty, mental and physical illness, and systemic racism impact the self, the family, and the greater African-American collective. Examining the connection between adverse childhood experiences and adult chronic conditions, Redmond’s poems arise from her deepest listening, beyond the skin, rooted in the marrow. They speak to the hardship of enduring fibromyalgia and the ongoing challenges of multiple myeloma while rejoicing in survival and the grace of existence itself. Yes, The Listening Skin affirms life and demands the dignity its speaker deserves: “I am full of this past present heat / I carry. / I come to the shore, / but I vacate nothing.” This consummate work honors embodied knowledge, all that’s heard at the boundary between flesh and air, vacating nothing, determinedly and brilliantly whole.
“Make No Apologies for Yourself,” from The Listening Skin
Dear you, make no apologies for yourself
because you are covered in a listening skin
Because every ache you feel is not your own
Because of the bowl of sorrow your mother carries
Because of your father’s wildfire moods
Because of how many rivers they crossed
Because of the lynching tree
Because when you enter bookstores
volumes fall off shelves into your open palms
Because you ask questions of the universe
and it answers and opens before you like a page...
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