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ISBN: 978-0-9981348-0-2
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Profeta Without Refuge

Publication Date: October 2016


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Profeta Without Refuge was originally published by Nomadic.

Profeta Without Refuge engages in poetic experimentation through the writing of an Afrocentric and womanist creation myth in resistance to state-sanctioned violence against Black and brown peoples. The book includes poems in the voices of three characters: the creator goddess of a Black immortal people; her human daughter who carries the vivid memories of generational trauma and joy; and the poet who serves as witness to reality and creator of the surreal as survival mechanism in our tumultuous times.


These lyrical and experimental poems explore the belief that our bodies are containers of trauma. Whether passed on from one generation to the next or lived in the flesh, the fear, heartbreak, violence, suffering and anxiety become a part of us and ultimately shape who and what we are and can become. With precise language, eloquent musicality, and harrowing mysticism and metaphor, Raina León is able to articulate both the historical and current suffering experienced by the black community in America. These poems are inescapable, they hold us captive and demand our attention on the page. Whether we move our eyes from left to right, right to left, or up and down each line, or pick up our cell phones to interact with the text in poems like “code,” she is reminding us that our skin, our body, our blood, and our bones hold and respond to physical and emotional trauma that cannot/should not be forgotten or erased.
Jasminne Mendez, International Latino Book Award winner, Island of Dreams.

In Profeta without Refuge, Leon writes: Life requires a haunting & then she proceeds to do exactly this by creating a world that acts like a veil to the one we reside in. She has forced a parallel seeing: black bodies lying in the streets & the constant naming of such violence with the remembering of who we are as a people, our ancestral and godlike abilities, our world full of mysticism & energy. Black people have no futures / in sci-fi or horror, she writes, & yet within the compounds of this text we know that this type of escapism might be the only place where we can safely create our (r)evolutions. This is an ambitious and profoundly beautiful work that will stay with me the rest of my days
Yesenia Montilla, author of The Pink Box longlisted for the Pen Open Book Award 2016.

With dynamic characters and complex narratives, profeta without refuge is a provocative blend of Afro Sci-Fi and eco-poetics that takes on the controversial issues of gender, Black rage, generational trauma, and race. This revolutionary collection is a test of time—for our past, present and future. It’s more than just science and emotions, León makes narrative poetry from the discord of black and brown bodies buried in U.S. history.
Sarah Rafael García, co-editor of pariahs writing from outside the margins & Founder of LibroMobile

About the Author

© Matteo Monchiero

Raina J. León

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia (Lenni Lenape ancestral lands). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo, among other creative communities. She is the author of black god mother this body, Canticle of IdolsBoogeyman Dawnsombra : (dis)locate, and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She publishes across forms in visual art, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work. She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She recently retired early as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there; she now holds professor emerita status, the first Black person to achieve the rank and third Latinx person. She currently supports poets and writers at the Stonecoast MFA at the University of Southern Maine. She is additionally a digital archivist, emerging visual artist, writing coach, and curriculum developer.

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