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ISBN: 978-1-73639-635-3
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

mourning my inner[blackgirl]child

Publication Date: February 2021


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue.  mourning my inner[blackgirl]child was originally published by Nomadic.

mourning my inner[blackgirl]child is an unabashed exposure of girlhood fragility, ancestral grieving, and embodied remembering. In her excavation of multiple pasts and multiple selves, reelaviolette botts-ward journeys through intimate encounters with her mother(s), her home, her body, and her precarity. As she mourns her deepest wounds, reelaviolette lays bare the im/possibilities of Black girlhood, slippages of Black motherhood, and matrilineal legacies of abuse. In telling her story, she tells so many of our own. reelaviolette’s poetry invites Black women deeper into our healing and centers the little girl within herself who has a sacred word for the world.


reelaviolette botts-ward’ collection of poetry, mourning my inner[blackgirl] child, is a provocative, moving, disturbing text whose pedagogical and healing possibilities are staggering. Footnotes are unusual for a collection of poems but contribute enormously to our understanding of the fragility, precarity, and vulnerability of Black girlhood/womanhood. Perhaps surprisingly, botts-ward makes a significant contribution to the embryonic field of Black Girlhood Studies. Her Black feminist analysis of what can be learned from girlhood trauma is refreshing and pioneering.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, PhD, Founding Director of the Women’s Research & Resource Center at Spelman College and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College.

Poetry as a sacred prayer, that is how this collection settled into my heart. A work of art would be an understatement.
Alexandra Elle, author of After the Rain

In a world that marginalizes, castigates, and abuses Black women, reelaviolette botts-ward loves us. She loves us as she exposes the raw truth of those external pressures on our bodies, minds, and spirits. She loves us defiantly and brilliantly, treats us with care and attention, as she crafts a poetics infused praxis of resilience and regeneration. In this book, she fearlessly reveals her personal harm and invites us to develop an empathetic depth needed for collective change. Hers is a praxis of self-healing and freedom, and she generously holds out a hand to guide us all, too. Healing is messy and the practice of healing is hard; still, she pulls us along, persistently. She breaks through tangles and reveals the spikes that threaten within narrative, deftly composed poetic form, and an interweaving of spell-inducing metaphor. Particularly in the integration of poems written in her teenage years, reelaviolette shows us a clarity in her wisdom and healing. She loves us Black women and that is the greatest testament to her daring in this important work, for love is the foundation of any movement that truly shapes the world and the people within it anew.
Raina León, PhD, author of Profeta Without Refuge

About the Author

© @shootteddy

dr. reelaviolette botts-ward

dr. reelaviolette botts-ward, PhD, is a homegirl, an artist, and a nontraditional community curator from Philadelphia, PA. Currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the REPAIR Project at UCSF, ree brings radical Black feminist healing arts to healthcare and medical science spaces. As founder of blackwomxnhealing, she curates healing circles, exhibitions, courses, and research for and by Black womxn, and values communal care as a foundational ethic for engaging somatic, ancestral, and spiritual wellness. She remains invested in making her academic work accessible to community audiences through her use of art, poetry, and digital humanities as tools for translation.

reelaviolette’s first book, mourning my inner[blackgirl]child, was published with Nomadic Press in 2021. She has also published articles, book chapters, and creative works with the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Routledge Press, and the University of Arizona Press, among others. Her work has been featured with platforms like Elle Magazine, NAACP, and The Griot, and supported by the California Black Women’s Health Project, the UC Humanities Research Institute, and the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, among others.

She received her PhD in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, her MA in African American studies from UCLA, and her BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Spelman College. She has also taught courses in the African American Studies department at Merritt College and the University of California, Berkeley, and a course called #BlackFeministHealingArts in UCSF’s Medical Anthropology department. For more on ree’s work, visit blackwomxnhealing.com / @blackwomxnhealing / @dr.reelaviolette on instagram.

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