Grinning & Bare – West End Press, June 2018
In her debut collection, Grinning & Bare, performance poet and activist, Ebony Isis Booth, sheds light on black feminism, racism and inequality, social justice, and self love.
In poems like “Safety Pin,” Booth looks at activism as a performance, lacking authenticity: “how different we are/now that safety pins/secure personhood and humanity/fasten identity in lapels in earnest.”
Her poems “The Trouble with Swimming Pools,” “Burial Costs,” “Say Her Name,” and the “Semantics of Tragedy and Fear” expose the disproportionate number of black youth who have fallen prey to police brutality and hate crimes. She writes, “Boys in blue tear through black boy flesh/black boys buried in Jordans/we thought they might die for.”
She exposes a consumer culture that devours and disposes of black bodies and the much-needed creation of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter to act as an antidote to the brutality and trauma.
In the second half of the book, Booth turns her gaze from the outward to the inner, to look at how her own life has been affected by black fatherhood, romantic love, and self love.
Ruminating on single motherhood in poems like “10 Reasons Why Your Right Eye is Twitching,” and on black women’s bodies in poems like “Black Girl in Therapy” and the title poem, “Grinning and Bare,” Booth paves the way for a conversation about the much needed intersections in feminism and the visibility of black women’s lives and bodies.
Ebony Isis Booth is a poet, writer, cultural strategist, and curator of vibes. She is founder of the African American multimedia showcase, Burque Noir, and Honeysuckle Creatives, a consultancy specializing in creative engagement strategies, project management, and event design with people of color in mind. Originally from New Jersey and a long time resident of Denver, Ebony resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her niece, Alayah, and nephew, Cordae. Grinning & Bare is her first book of poetry.