Cover Image: Breath Better Spent

Breath Better Spent

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Member Reviews

a collection of poetry that centers on the lives of Black women and their joys and struggles. This was a beautiful look at what it means to be Black in the world. How does the world view you, and how do those views shape your views. I feel like even people who don't enjoy poetry would enjoy this.
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This collection of prose and poetry looks at Black girlhood in America, through the poet's eyes but also in conversation with SOLHOT (Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths), an art installation at the Colored Girl Museum in Germantown PA, the Urban Bush Women, and including the #bringbackourgirls movement.

So much that needed to be said, spoken out loud, called out - this is a worthwhile read I'd highly recommend when it comes out January 22nd.

What You Talking 'Bout was probably my favorite but a lot of it is moving and words to return to.
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At the start of this, her second published poetry collection, Hill mentions the lessons we have learned from Audre Lord and others. I like Lord’s poetry, too, but it’s time for Lord to move over and make some space. Hill is a powerhouse. Her recent collection about imprisoned women, A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing, is phenomenal, and it’s won her awards and many accolades, but this new book, an ode to Black girlhood, is better still. Her perception, intimacy, vulnerability and fearlessness all come through in what is most likely the best poetry collection we’ll see in 2022. My thanks go to Net Galley and Bloomsbury for the invitation to read and review; it becomes available to the public January 25, 2022. 

In the preface, Dr. Hill discusses her influences, as well as the way she has divided this collection into sections. She starts by discussing the murder of Breonna Taylor, right there in her home state of Kentucky, and she goes on to point to the increasing incidents of disciplinary measures against Black girls in school, along with a disturbing rise in their incarcerations. Society is failing Black girls, and we need to do better. 

In reading this collection, I find I process the poems best if I only read one or two each night. As I go, I highlight the titles of my favorites. There’s not a bad one in the bunch, but I am most taken with the first, “Jarena Lee: A Platypus in A Petticoat;” “How the Tongue Holds,” which is completely horrifying, and and so well done; “What You Talking ‘Bout;” “Hotter Than July;” and one dedicated to a family member that served in the military, “Those Sunless Summer Mornings.” At the end is a series themed around missing Black girls, here and in Africa. Again, I am drawn to a segment dedicated “to my niece and her bullies.” And breaking up the intensity are occasional moments of surprising humor that make me laugh out loud. 

The thing that comes through, strong and long, is Hill’s affinity for, and understanding of Black girls. I have written scathing reviews several times, one quite recently, when authors include children prominently in their books without having taken the time to learn the developmental stages of their characters. Here, it’s the opposite. Hill knows girls, and she knows them well and deeply. She mentions that some parts of this collection are “semi-autobiographical,” but her knowledge runs much, much deeper than one gets simply by having been a girl. And so, though this collection will be useful to those teaching or studying courses in Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and of course, poetry, the people that absolutely need to read this collection are teachers in training. This should be mandatory reading for anyone planning to go into education. For that matter, it would also be excellent material for teacher in-services. 

Several of Hill’s poems are contextual, dealing with the current political climate, and it’s now, with voting rights in question, cop violence rampant, and racism becoming increasingly overt, that we need books like this to counter the reactionary elements. It’s brave and powerful writing, and if you don’t order a copy, you risk missing out. Highly recommended.
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I enjoyed this collection of poems and essays. While this book is not an easy read, it is an enjoyable one. I felt like this book was both a celebration and critique of Black girlhood and Black womanhood that made me feel seen and understood. I especially enjoyed the sections that paid homage to the greats like Aretha Franklin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Whitney Houston. This was a solid read and I definitely recommend it.
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Breath Better Spent by @damarishill

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

* Thank you to @netgalley and @bloomsbury for providing a digital copy of Greenwich Park in exchange of a honest review. 

What a powerful novel. The subjects are not easy ones, but they are real, and we need to be more aware of what’s going on in our neighborhood/city/country and around the world with the black community. I loved that there’s a mix of poetry, essays and picture.  I especially liked the preface where we learn where this book comes from. I would recommend that one to everyone. 🤎
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More of a 3.5 than a 4, but the language was powerful and strong, so I don't mind rounding up.

I loved the structure of this book having both the poetry and essays. I loved the preface as it covered what was going to be in the book, the motivations for writing it, and the things that inspired Hill to put it together. This is what drew me in. I loved the idea of being exposed to a culture from a raw and honest standpoint. 

The walkthrough of Black women who set-up what Black girlhood is, in Hill's mind, was a history lesson for me. I had to look up some of the various names in order to understand the context of the poems, but it never needed to be extensive. I like that it provided me with a frame of reference as to who Hill admired and shaped her understanding of it through. 

The essays were also fascinating. I loved the way Hill was able to weave narrative feelings into something that felt more informational. I forces the reader to take a break from flying through the poetry and really taking in the different topics and experiences Hill covers.

Overall, it's a really great look at the evolution of Black girlhood and the trials and triumphs faced. I wouldn't say this is a "Black girl magic" book, as those focus more on more directly uplifting ideals, but it does carry a lot of hope. Would recommend.
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My book group and I are huge fans of Dr. DaMaris B. Hill's poetry collection, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland (which, incidentally was a 2020 NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry). As a result, we were primed for Dr. Hill's more personal deep dive into Black girlhood with this collection. Like A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, Hill deals with historical figures as well as current figures who speak to this notion of the uniqueness of the experiences of Black girlhood. Both of these collections are worth the read. 

Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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These are dense, demanding poems, elegies and remembrances and warnings.  I don't think I understood half of what was written but I can feel the ager and sadness and determination emanating from them.  Powerful.
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In this poetry collection, DaMaris B. Hill explores Black girlhood, including her own, historically, and the current reality. Her writing is absolutely phenomenal and demands your time and attention. Even the introduction is a powerful work of art. This book—and anything written by Hill—cannot be missed.
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stunning collection! i really appreciate Hill's continuing commitment to writing history poems of the then and the now. it's a really interesting juxtaposition of celebration, loss, memory, and survival. black girlhood is the driving force behind this book. which allows for a sense of wonder that i found particularly interesting. enjoyed much more than her first collection (which was still wonderful!)
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I really wanted to love this book because the cover caught me by surprise; I loved the idea of the cover containing hearts of various shades of skin colors, since the book is centered from a black women's perspective. However, I wasn't able to get far into the book before I became discouraged from continuing on. The first chapter where the author talks about her life, I couldn't get through it, mainly because I wasn't reading it smoothly enough. I might give this book another shot in the future, but for now, I'll have to pass on it.
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