A new collection singing the survival and thriving of Black women, chosen by Cynthia Arrieu-King for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection.
"In the spirit of magic, potions, and inventory, this book calls up the language of both science and witchery to call roll on Black women. Betts says their names in a litany of circumstances and survival. In the first section of the book, the poet draws a matrilineal line that connects these beings, and through this line, the bounce and weft of Betts’s verse meets readers in the actual: in hot sauce, FUBU, Sin-dee and Alexandra from Tangerine, Simone Biles, and on. Next, Betts brings in a movement of poems centered around music and the diamond needle of voice—how one sings oneself into being, and how the 'song of my dead' is the only magnet for society’s attention, not the love, not the joy or fact of living. In the final poems, the voice carries solemn reality, mulling all that’s been lost and imprisoned with the alchemy of showing up." —Cynthia Arrieu-King, 2021 judge for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection
"IN REFUSE TO DISAPPEAR Tara Betts writes histories and lineages into lines, pleating language into reunion, tucking it into the page’s pocket for another to find across time—gris-gris, amulet, 'my slingshot and my stone.' These poems shimmer with Betts’s fierce, devoted attention to Black Life. Like poems by Audre Lorde and June Jordan, these poems refuse silence and forgetting. With love and clarity and fight, they face fire and speak: 'time may burn and i / refuse to disappear.' " — Aracelis Girmay
"What a revelation. In REFUSE TO DISAPPEAR, Tara Betts holds fire—sometimes, her poems are like beacons on a darkening day, sometimes her poems radiate the blaze of Black women’s voices, then and now, never to be forgotten, sometimes her lines flame up and unjust history is singed, and you read, like you’ve found that friend who puts language to that thing you felt but couldn’t put words to, that home fire rescue." — Cornelius Eady
Poetry. African & African American Studies. Women's Studies.
Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. In addition to her work as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she has taught at Rutgers University and University of Illinois-Chicago, and at Stateville Prison via the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project. She is the Inaugural Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow at University of Chicago. Betts serves as Poetry Editor at The Langston Hughes Review and is founder of the nonprofit organization The Whirlwind Learning Center on Chicago's South Side.