Cover Image: No Sweet Without Brine

No Sweet Without Brine

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Member Reviews


This was just the collection of poetry that I needed in this particular time and space. A confirmation so to speak. Thank you to NetGalley for an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.

There is something to be said about intentionality here. No Sweet Without Brine is a poetry collection that delves into the sticky sweet, soft caresses that we are able to observe, recognize, and celebrate as humans. Like a pound cake slice or the desire for Zamunda to be a real place. And on the other side of that, those sour, prickly moments that place us as women specifically in a disheartening position. From the way we're told to govern ourselves from catcalling to having to put on armor everyday to merely survive. Unfortunately, sometimes never taking it off.

Each poem I found to be distinctly relatable and forces you to think about how we can all better appreciate and celebrate our Blackness. It is a call to teach ourselves to stop allowing the bitterness, the low moments, the things we wish we didn't have to deal with to steal our joy.

I highly recommend this collection and this author's work. Simply amazing!

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Haven’t read poetry in a minute so this was a great pick to get back in my groove for it. This collection is broken into 4 sections and was raw, honest, deep, and beautifully written. The author found such a creatively poetic way to connect with all of the readers. Her work translates into relatable personal experiences that surround the fragility of love, family, blackness, culture, beauty, body image, and a testament to hardship and how we must thrive through it all.

Every poem flowed naturally with passion and were all easy to read. Her poem “Livin Flush” took me out with those 4 little lines. When ppl get paid everything all good but soon as the money gone they back struggling. Her perspectives are interchangeable and can be viewed as humorous in certain aspects but also real and overly honest.

Favorite poems:
* Is This Your Sky or Mine?
* Self-Portrait No. 5 (Phoenix and Lullabies)
* RX for Little Black Girls
* Introvert Confessions
* Recipe for Keeping a Man
* The Way the World Holds You

Overall, I found this collection to be very enjoyable it was uniquely formatted and I loved the clarity and relatability. I felt with each poem we get a feel of who the author is and her own personal experiences. If you’re into poetry I definitely recommend checking out this author’s work. Special thanks to the author & @amistadbooks for my gifted copy!!!!

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This poetry collection does exactly what I want a poetry collection to do: it makes me pause in wonder at beautiful word combinations, it evokes a wide array of emotions, and it pulls me into the past and the future. Cynthia Manick's poetry is exuberant, bold, nostalgic, and full of life. I loved this book and hope to read many more of her poems in the future.

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While reading this collection of poems I exclaimed aloud, “Now that’s a poet!” I was enraptured by Cynthia Manick. I felt particularly glad to have learned about the Eintou poem format from my favorite poem in the book, titled “Eintou for Possibility.”

“I think / the gap between / my teeth is actually / a portal. A world where all / the gaps meet -gossip about / peas, whistling, / and stars.”

According to, “The term Eintou is West African for ‘pearl’ as in pearls of wisdom, and often the Eintou imparts these pearls in heightened language.” This African American poet also explains that the form mimics the circular shape of a pearl with syllables that follow a gradual increase and decrease (for example: 2-4-6-8-6-4-2). And that’s why you must read this book to see the poem written on the page.

I was particularly struck by poems titled as numbered self portraits. In an age of throwaway selfies, Manick’s lyrical vulnerability was much appreciated.

I received an uncorrected digital advance reader copy from NetGalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

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A wonderful collection that is fresh, sharp, and singular. In my Ms. Magazine 2023 Poetry Month list, I used three words to describe it: memory, tenderness, and breath.

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this collection was so fire i'm in love with every single word CM will ever write!! my faves were "3 am and the moon is curled like a 'c'" and "no graveside flowers". will absolutely be binging the rest of her work when i have the time—this was such a vibrant, grounded, and mesmerizing collection <3

<em>thank you to amistad and netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review!</em>

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This is exactly the kind of poetry I love! Manick writes beautiful, purposeful, personal poems filled with detail. It’s hard to pick favorites but I especially loved the “Self-Portrait” series poems. I’ll definitely be loaning this out to people when I get my physical copy. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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I have been a fan of Cynthia Manick since reading her debut collection of poetry, Blue Hallelujahs, where she writes about her experience of Black womanhood and the fear of extinction that becomes possible when we are forced to live through performance and not authentic, embodied being. She continues this examination of Black womanhood in No Sweet Without Brine.

No Sweet Without Brine is divided into four sections: Self-Portraits and Other Skies; I Want Us Living, Not Just Alive; Sin Is A Good Hymn; and If We Should, Who Will Fly After Us. If her first collection was about her own personal experience then this next collection is where she engages her reader in a dialogue about our own reflections on Black womanhood and journey towards becoming.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the e-arc copy!

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Remember the movie "Brown Sugar" and its title track "Love of My Life: An Ode to Hip Hop" by Erykah Badu and Common? That is what this collection of poetry reminds me of. There are references to Black culture of yesteryear: Tootie, Redd Foxx, Jett Magazine and references to things more current or timeless: Superman and Idris Elba-yet all focused on how things resonated through the lens of a Black girl/adolescent/woman. The lyricism is also there calling the reader to remember, mourn and rock to the loves of our lives.

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A joy to read, a joy to recommend. This collection has incredible breadth: simultaneously playful, mournful, and joyful with consistent clarity of voice.

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5 stars

I so enjoyed this collection and am already looking forward to teaching it.

This is my first experience with Manick’s work, and what I’m taking away most clearly is how fresh it feels. The perspectives are clear, unified, and vivid, and there is so much richness packed into relatively small spaces. Shifting tones - especially glimpses of humor, connections to cultural touchstones, and incisive notes about speakers’ selves - make this a quick but meaningful read.

I can’t wait to share several of these works with students and to now have this writer on the radar for extensive future reading.

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I adored this. Everything was so raw yet simultaneously tender. There is such a perfect balance of rage and willfulness interspersed with moments of self love. Thank you to Amistad & NetGalley for the ARC

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I had to take my time with these. So much was said with such few words I needed to sit with it. Beautiful collection of poetry.

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No Sweet Without Brine by Cynthia Manick is a beautiful memoir in poetry. this is a beautiful collection that you must experience for yourself. A must for every library!

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