"The debut collection arrives from a feminized African American/Caribbean, southern bluesy sort of suppressed grin, and it begs for more." —Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews
Debut collection by poet and academic Cherene Sherrard
Cherene Sherrard’s poetry collection Vixen takes to task the historical narratives and artistic mediums that have shaped racial and gender identity. She asks her readers to closely examine the hand that guides the pen, the photographer behind the lens, and the star on stage. In powerful, finely crafted lines, Sherrard’s poems interrupt and redirect the conversation.
Sherrard’s voice-driven poems are accessible to any reader interested in work that examines racial and black female representation within a historical, cultural, and artistic framework.
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Reviews / Endorsements
"The soundtrack is jazz, the subjects are about identity, historical and personal, from a writer who doesn’t subordinate herself to make a poem. Each page is unexpected, with a fresh view, meeting someone new, filled with poetic change and intrigue. These poems are edgy; and yet smooth, and strong, as silk." http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/features/september-2017-exemplars-poetry-reviews-by-grace-cavalieri—Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books
"Cherene Sherrard writes the most satirical poems that one can encounter in contemporary poetry.
Not just her takes on slavery in the second part of the book about Annabelle X, but throughout the first and third parts also. That is, bitter satires with a great wit, as 'The Holy Cathedral At Toledo As Praise Shack' shows: 'Imagine a shout held in its main gallery./Voices, like pipe organs to gothic arches,/caress the treasury, use the gold plates and/scepters as noisemakers to keep the rhythm.//The praise shack on Daufuskie would fit in the bishop’s crypt,/an outhouse for the holy spirit rather than a stronghold of/Christendom that marshaled every man with a chisel/to raise pulleys until the inside resembled a heaven/where hosts of marble seraphim backstroke across the ceiling.' And that is just the first two of four stanzas!"
http://www.mysanantonio.com/lifestyle/article/Book-review-Two-accomplished-poets-deal-with-12347554.php#photo-14526516—Roberto Bonazzi, My San Antonio
“Cherene Sherrard’s Vixen is one of the most stunning debut collections of recent years. Historically resonant and urgently contemporary, Cherene Sherrard’s work interrogates the raw, shifting, and corrosive narratives of racial identity that her poems unravel in multiple cultural iterations. Her speakers are dazzling and her lines crackle with her powerful and incisive intelligence. Vixen is a book I keep returning to again and again for both its wisdom and its passionate dramatic brilliance.”—David St. John
“Vixen is a sharp knife elegantly sheathed in velvet, leather, and lace. What I mean is: the language is precise and pointed; the poetry's graceful forms contain superb surprises; and the lives that take shape in Cherene Sherrard's skilled and generous hands are richly textured, gorgeously various. Every word a sensation, every line a hard-earned luxury: this book leads us away from safety into worlds that black women learn to navigate through vexatious, merciless experience. Follow Sherrard into vixen country and get versed in its ‘iridescent mayhem.’ ”
“How does a woman reimagine the world and cast herself anew in it? Vixen prompts such reconsideration—beginning with its title. How one feels and how one is pressured to feel frequently compete with one another. Sherrard gives voice to a much needed resistance. Her poems quietly amass their humor, affections and preoccupation with film, music, history—and the loveliest textures and colors. What a multifarious gathering of voices in this book. They don't compete so much as question. We are all the better for hearing them.”—Yona Harvey
From the Book:
A rogue wind carries a luminescent feather
& drums wake the womb. The queen preens
as he calls to the spyboy, feels
his calloused ovals finger braille
on the pelvic floor, da dum, whistle
whisper, you my redbone, the prettiest.
Originally from Los Angeles, CHERENE SHERRARD currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where she teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and African American literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a graduate of the Cave Canem Summer Workshops, a recipient of many fellowships and awards, and her fiction and poetry have been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Her poetry chapbook, Mistress Reclining (2010), won the New Women’s Voices Award.