An acclaimed young poet traces the lives of her foremothers in Western Tennessee, from those enslaved centuries ago to her grandmother, her mother, and finally her own life, in this stunning debut celebrating Black girlhood and womanhood.
A true American epic in verse, Walking Gentry Home tells the story of Alora Young’s ancestors, from the unnamed women the historical record has forgotten but Young brings to life through imagination; to Amy, the first of her foremothers to arrive in Tennessee, buried in an unmarked grave unlike the white man who enslaved her and fathered her child; through Young’s great-grandmother Gentry, unhappily married at fourteen; to her own mother, the teenage beauty queen rejected by her white neighbors; down to Young in the present day as she leaves childhood behind and becomes a young woman.
The lives of these women come together to form a narrative that speaks of generational curses, coming of age, homes and small towns, fleeting loves and lasting consequences, and the brutal and ever-present legacy of slavery in the American South. Each poem is a story-in-verse and together they form an arresting saga. Both heart-wrenching and inspiring, this unique family memoir finds joy and pride where others might only see despair.
Informed by archival research, the will and testament of a slaver, formal interviews, family lore, and even a DNA test, Walking Gentry Home gives voice to those most often muted: Black girls and women in America.