The speaker of Cynthia Manick’s haunted debut collection admits “a love for surgery porn at 1 a.m.” And one early poem begins, “Today I am elbow deep/in some animal’s belly//pulling out the heart and stomach/for my mother’s table.” Throughout, Blue Hallelujahs approaches aspects of a woman’s development—from “feet first” Caesarean delivery to a grandmother’s admonition “to pull flesh/from the throat not the belly”—blade at the ready, moving from slaughter to surgery to a kind of deep southern haruspication. At the center of girlhood we find The Shop with its inventory of inherited hungers. “Is this what the heart eats?” Manick renders visceral a longing to avoid extinction, to escape the museum, to live fully embodying one’s identity as a woman who “knows/ how to wield a knife.”
—Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award Finalist
"What we remember is what we become. Rocking chairs holding mothers and "animals that root the ground for peaches, bones and stars." In Blue Hallelujahs Cynthia Manick holds fast to what brought us across. These are not the things you will hear about Black people on the nightly news. But they remain the things that lock the arms of Black people around Black people when we need what we need to keep moving on. I am so grateful to this sweet box of sacred words."
—Nikky Finney, Author of Head Off & Split, Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry
Cynthia Manick's Blue Hallelujahs bring us to a broil like Koko Taylor's "white-toothed love coils on repeat." Here, we have a gospel of womanly sharpness, a kitchen sinked and hot combed diary of the way Blues grinds into the 21st century. Gifted with the ability to smolder into surprise and swelter, Manick's reflections on discovery and loss will bring you to a "slow applause under the skin." Thank you for this bouquet of sheet music filled with church organ and pistol smoke, Ms. Manick. We gone need it to get to the other side.
—Tyehimba Jess, author of leadbelly, winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series
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