National Poetry Month Spotlight: Cynthia Manick

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2016! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections.

Today’s featured poet is Cynthia Manick, author of Blue Hallelujahs which is due out this summer.

What I Know About Blues
I know butterflies can taste
with their feet.
Blackberry vinegar or apple water
can break a fever.
I know the sharp length
of my mother’s tongue
use every part of the fruit
and stem she’d say, don’t leave
anything behind.
I know the skin of mackerel
is softer than an eyelid.
I know salt– the way it sifts
through tips, piling
on a wife’s lap like gold.
Can you hear how I hold
a breath inside–
use my body to say
I can be your Clementine
I can be your sweet baby.
I know how to name things.
I’ve been called little lady,
pickaninny, gel, mamacita, the black one,
the big one, the dark one, woman–
each name makes a map of me.
Manick Photo by RissbergerCynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. A Pushcart Prize nominated poet with a MFA in Creative Writing from the New School; she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Hedgebrook, and the Vermont Studio Center. She was a 2014 finalist for the New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship in Poetry; serves as East Coast Editor of the independent press Jamii Publishing; and is the Founder and Curator of the reading series Soul Sister Revue. Her work has appeared in African American Review, Bone Bouquet, Callaloo, DMQ Review, Kweli Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Sou’wester, Pedestal Magazine, Passages North, St. Ann’s Review, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.