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Voyage of the Sable Venus and other poems by…
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Voyage of the Sable Venus and other poems (edition 2015)

by Robin Coste Lewis

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1466138,455 (4.05)17
"A stunning poetry debut: this meditation on the black female figure throughout time introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice. Robin Coste Lewis's electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, 'Voyage of the Sable Venus,' a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present-titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis's autobiographical poems, 'Voyage' is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin-five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the 'Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase' to a 'Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,' this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis's book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race-a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts." from publisher's website.… (more)
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Title:Voyage of the Sable Venus and other poems
Authors:Robin Coste Lewis
Info:New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
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Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems by Robin Coste Lewis

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Another book where a literary exercise is at the center, but Lewis pulls it off fairly convincingly. The poem that covers the various black Madonnas she's found (the exercise is using names and descriptions of art that depicts black women) is beautiful and some of the later ones didn't even feel like museum descriptions, though many of those were astonishingly beautiful. There was also a lot of embodiment thematics contrasted with a sustained interest in "Eastern" religions as well as embodiment as it tied in to motherhood. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 24, 2018 |
A haunting, intense, moving collection of poetry, both personal and political. The title piece is composed solely from titles and descriptions used in Western museums to describe art/art objects depicting women of color. When I heard about it, I thought it would be hokey, but it was a staggeringly good/depressing/painful/shocking/illuminating piece.

In this political climate, when an elected official huffily asks what other "subgroups" contributed to civilization more than whites, and in this era of the #blacklivesmatter and #sayhername movements, this collection feels especially prescient. ( )
  unabridgedchick | Oct 23, 2017 |
Frequently and consistently, black women poets put out poignant and crafted work. The way the the popular cultural narrative in constructed, you wouldn't think a black woman wrote a poetry collection between Maya Angelou and Claudia Rankine. However, with Rankine's popularity, we can only hope that phenomenal black women writers like Coste-Lewis will be recognized for their work.

This collection is a lyrical maelstrom of art history, personal trauma, beauty, anger, and profound love. The poet's voice is at once elevated down to earth, musical and sharp, humorous and thoughtful. Many other poets aiming for the balance that Coste-Lewis achieves here would come out lopsided, but the thread she creates artfully unites race, art sexuality, and womanhood. A beautiful book. ( )
  poetontheone | Oct 13, 2016 |
This amazing book of poetry gave me all the feels. There are fistfulls of social commentary on race, class, gender, and sexuality that punch you right in the heart and the brain and the gut.

The book is split into three acts, with different poem "movements" in each. Of particular mention is the second act, which contains a single, 70+ page poem reflecting on the way people of color have been represented in art. An unbelievable work of scholarship and language, it's beyond explanation here. Just read it. The poet's moving and beautiful use of language in this collection is just beyond anything I've ever read. Unbelievably moving and captivating. Definitely something that will stick with me, and I'll re-read often. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
A powerful collection of vital American verse. In addition to the singular "Voyage of the Sable Venus", highlights for me included "Beauty's Nest" and nearly every poem in Part III, especially "Lure", "Second Line", "Pleasure & Understanding", and "Félicité". ( )
  williecostello | Feb 21, 2016 |
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Welty, EudoraCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"A stunning poetry debut: this meditation on the black female figure throughout time introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice. Robin Coste Lewis's electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, 'Voyage of the Sable Venus,' a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present-titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis's autobiographical poems, 'Voyage' is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin-five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the 'Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase' to a 'Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,' this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis's book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race-a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts." from publisher's website.

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