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Toi Derricotte’s story is a hero’s journey—a poet earning her way home, to her own commanding powers. “I”: New and Selected Poems shows the reader both the closeness of the enemy and the poet’s inherent courage, inventiveness, and joy. It is a record of one woman’s response to the repressive and fracturing forces around the subjects of race, class, color, gender, and sexuality. Each poem is an act of victory as the author finds her way through repressive forces to speak with beauty and truth.
This collection features more than thirty new poems as well as selections from five previous collections.
About the Author
Toi Derricotte is an award-winning poet whose work tackles difficult and universal subject matter such as violence, racism, motherhood, and self-identity through an autobiographical lens. She is the author of The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections, including Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
“This retrospective volume unflinchingly explores the author’s complex experiences as a light-skinned black woman in America. . . . Derricotte’s attention lingers on places of struggle where life is at its most vibrant, urgent, and surprising.” —Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
“What song do you sing when you sing ‘so low we can't hear you?’ Toi Derricotte makes poetry of that song. It rises from ‘the houses where you hear the least squealing,’ it is ‘quieter than blossoms & near invisible.’ It is filled with witness and love for our literal and literary families.” —Terrance Hayes
“No writer I know of explores with more honesty the sorrows and wonders and joys and shames and tenderness of being alive. No writer is more tender. And no poems I know of make me feel witnessed, held, beheld, the way Derricotte’s do. Her poems behold us. I am so grateful for these poems. I am so grateful for Derricotte’s beautiful heart.” —Ross Gay
“These exceptional new poems reveal one of America's strongest and most ardent poets mid-strife, on fire, charging forward toward all that is false in our lives and in our world. How endlessly grateful I feel that, once again, she has allowed us to accompany her.” —Robin Coste Lewis
“The new poems in Toi Derricotte’s collection ‘I’ reveal that she has entered an entire new sphere as a poet, in which the struggles fall away and the spirits take her hands and float her forward. After years of wrestling with her demons, Derricotte has awakened—enlightened, serene, truth coming to her, through her, so casually. She has earned this grace with all her hard work, suffering and love.” —Alicia Suskin Ostriker
“Buy this book for cold dark winter months when you need to be held by a few words. No one can do that quite like Derricotte.”