Cape Verdean Blues
Description"These words feel like experiences. Some are personal, most are enlightening, but all connect. Connect on a higher Level. A spiritual level."
--Kendrick Lamar, Grammy Award-winning artist, and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music -- A Lit Hub Favorite Book of 2018 The speaker in Cape Verdean Blues is an oracle walking down the street. Shauna Barbosa interrogates encounters and the weight of their space. Grounded in bodily experience and the phenomenology of femininity, this collection provides a sense of Cape Verdean identity. It uniquely captures the essence of "Sodade," as it refers to the Cape Verdean American experience, and also the nostalgia and self-reflection one navigates through relationships lived, lost, and imagined. And its layers of unusual imagery and sound hold the reader in their grip.
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"Cape Verdean Blues sings its pleasures and its pains. Delighting in the possibilities of linguistic play and undeniable rhythm, Barbosa's urgent and intoxicating poems honor the poet's past even as they fashion and refashion a shifting, irreducibly complex, and irrepressible identity that slyly slips our hold."
--Kathleen Graber, author of The Eternal City: poems
"This is a book harried by the wraiths of American power and culture, a book of the splitting possibilities of self and of love gone ridiculous, of the terrible and ongoing orthodoxy of the internet, of the largesse and murder committed by the ocean and by the calendar itself. And Shauna Barbosa's jet-pilot of a speaker stays calm in the cock-pit, radioing in the damage. 'Quiet are the dead these days, yeah?' she asks. But by the time you reach the end of Cape Verdean Blues, dear reader, the dead aren't quiet any longer."
"Equal measures heart and bravado, Barbosa captures a present moment in U.S. poetry."
"These words feel like experiences. Some are personal, most are enlightening, but all connect. Connect on higher Level. A spiritual level."
--Kendrick Lamar, Grammy Award-winning artist, and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music
It was tough to pick a top book in 2018 but I'm going to have to go with Kendrick Lamar on this one and say Shauna Barbosa's poetry collection, Cape Verdean Blues, topped my list. These poems make bodily experiences feel spiritual while also exploring the concerns of someone whose identity lives between two cultures. I've always been a fan of reflecting on those moments or people in life that come and go quickly but leave behind detailed traces of emotion. Barbosa extracts these delicate traces and places them within her words. The collection does what poetry is meant to do, move you.
-Melissa Ximena Golebiowski, Lit Hub national assigning editor