An award-winning author presents a portrait of Black America in the nineteenth century Unshuttered: Poems
is the vessel for poetic personae and a selection of antique photographs of Black Americans, which Patricia Smith has collected over the course of twenty years. In these hard-to-find images, men, women, and children peer at us from the past, stripped of their lives and histories. Smith's language and searing lines ghost-story the unnamed forebears who daguerreotype-stare from the page while backdropping the poet's own losses: We ache for fiction etched in black and white. Our eyes never touch. These tragic grays and bustles, mourners' hats plopped high upon our tamed but tangled crowns, strain to disguise what yearning does with us.
This masterful and haunting mosaic is a search for lost histories, both personal and inherited, from an incendiary era in human history. Bound in black and white, these faces, staring back, find a home and resting place in the words of one of American literature's finest wordsmiths. In return, the wordsmith uncovers her own unknown history.