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"Throughout [BLUD], McKibbens breathes brilliant life into language, forging lush, rhythmic poems that are both fiercely urgent and tightly controlled, dark and flickering with fairy-tale-like magic. . . . Stunning, unflinching, fearless."―Booklist Starred Review

"Chicana poet, activist, and witchy folk hero of the disenfranchised. . . . [McKibbens] creates these spaces of witness with her feral and boundary-pushing poems that speak unflinchingly of topics often swept under the rug: rape, domestic violence, body shaming, mental illness, prejudice."—Ploughshares

"McKibbens, a pioneer in the art of performance poetry, presents her audience [with] selfless honesty."—The Rumpus

"Rachel McKibbens . . . reminds us why poetry as testimony is so necessary." —Poetry Foundation

McKibbens's blud is a collection of dark, rhythmic poems interested in the ways in which inherited things—bloodlines, mental illnesses, trauma—affect their inheritors. Reveling in form and sound, McKibbens's writing takes back control, undaunted by the idea of sinking its teeth into the ugliest moments of life, while still believing—and looking for—the good underneath all the bruising.

From "untitled (lost love)":

To my daughters I need to say:
Go with the one who loves you biblically.
The one whose love lifts its head to you
despite its broken neck. Whose body
bursts sixteen arms electric
to carry you, gentle the way
old grief is gentle.
Love the love that is messy
in all its too much . . .

Rachel McKibbens is a poet, activist, playwright, essayist, and two-time New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow. She is the author of four books and founder of The Pink Door, an annual writing retreat open exclusively to women of color. She lives in Rochester, New York.

 Mikaela was never a woman who could be considered independent. At least not in the social norms. As it was, today was yet another day of tearing out the floors in an old house. Gaudy blue carpet, which was matted and stapled to water-damaged plywood. A gross and dusty floor, which she’d been sleeping on for days. Mikaela gave the floor one final stare of dismiss, before she crouched down and jabbed a crowbar beneath the plywood, aiming specifically for the t-nails someone had sporadically shot into the floor. She took three deep breaths, and lifted with all her might from the hips. Her forearms rippled against the strain, and she groaned in pain, until the nails ripped from the floor with several loud pops. She peeled off her dusty ski goggles, and gazed at the skeleton wood beneath, with a large cheeky grin.

Dust and sheetrock smothered oversized sweatpants, fitted over a pair of black jeans. And a wool sweater with large moth holes guarded her only black v neck shirt. Her dark wavy brown hair was tied in a bun and cast beneath a black beanie. And her work boots were caked with paint and dust. Like always, she’d borrowed some beat- up clothes from an employer, and threw them over the only clothes she had. This was the life she chose, to be a writer. A traveling vagabond with a knack for carpentry. She flipped buildings for shelter, and some pay, if pay could be given. As long as she had time to write, and the carpentry didn’t get too far in the way, she was content. But let’s be honest, anything that’s not writing, is in the way. And content isn’t the same as happy.

Vince, a burly blonde man, peeled his safety glasses off, and nodded to Tommy, who about the same age, was also graying to the point, where although they were completely different people, they looked like brothers. Brothers in ripped jeans and sweaters, with dabs of paint everywhere. Layers and layers of clothing, and beanies with bits of ceiling and sawdust.

“You see that?!” Vince laughed, gesturing in Mikaela’s direction.

“Yup!” Tommy shouted past a set of ear protectors. “96 pounds of badass!” He’d gone to war with the cement floor in the basement, and had just finished with the jackhammer, when he walked into the living room to see Mikaela tackling the last of the floor.

Mikaela glowered at the line of black washed denim. “It has to be perfect,” she thought to herself. She’d never had genuinely great clothing; and, as a reward for all the terrors she’d experienced on her route to becoming a successful writer, she was ordering a custom-made denim black hoodie, with snap buttons. She’d adamantly expressed the need for snap buttons, being a person who struggles with buttons and zippers. Yes, Mikaela was a weird one.

Even as she imagined the denim shirt, she knew it would be soft without yield, crisp with comfort, and sharp but shielding. Everything a rough and rugged cancer the crab would want.

Mikaela wished to impress, in her own way. Not with the styles that others delegated. She wanted to wear leather shoulder pads, and high collared gowns. Walk around with leather suspenders over black v neck shirts. Wear ties with denim shirts, and long rimmed hats. She wanted more than what women were offered. Why did it always seem women were offered less than their male counterparts? Who could go anywhere and do anything they pleased?

Well now Mikaela was sponsored. Alister, an Art Patron had plucked her from a deep, dark, and depressing alley, and flung her into a two-story loft with an attic. They worked more than a hundred twenty hours a week together. Piecing together a publication, like sewing one of Frankenstein’s monsters. Obsessed, compassionate, and deeply devoured, by an essence unknown to man. Whatever this thing that inspired artists was made of, and wherever it came from, it’d both saved and wrecked the lives of Mikaela and Alister. And they were on this ship, together, sailing for whatever destination they were destined to reach.

The beauty and spirit of Maya Angelou’s words live on in this complete collection of poetry.

Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life.
Every poetic phrase, every poignant verse can be found within the pages of this sure-to-be-treasured volume—from her reflections on African American life and hardship in the compilation Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (“Though there’s one thing that I cry for / I believe enough to die for / That is every man’s responsibility to man”) to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in the poem “Still I Rise” (“Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise”) to her “On the Pulse of Morning” tribute at President William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration (“Lift up your eyes upon / The day breaking for you. / Give birth again / To the dream.”).
Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry also features her final long-form poems, including “A Brave and Startling Truth,” “Amazing Peace,” “His Day Is Done,” and the honest and endearing Mother:
“I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever”
This collection also includes the never-before-published poem “Amazement Awaits,” commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games:
“We are here at the portal of the world we had wished for
At the lintel of the world we most need.
We are here roaring and singing.
We prove that we can not only make peace, we can bring it with us.”
Timeless and prescient, this definitive compendium will warm the hearts of Maya Angelou’s most ardent admirers as it introduces new readers to the legendary poet, activist, and teacher—a phenomenal woman for the ages.
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