Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems


Product Details

$16.00  $14.88
Graywolf Press
Publish Date
7.02 X 8.99 X 0.35 inches | 0.49 pounds

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About the Author

Kweku Abimbola earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Shade Literary Arts, 20.35 Africa, The Common, and elsewhere. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.


"Saltwater Demands a Psalm blends Ghanaian culture and Black American experience in a cosmology of celebration and resistance."--The New York Times Book Review

"Elegant. . . . A brave and gracious debut."--Diego Báez, Booklist

"Abimbola's storytelling enacts both lineage and lesson. . . . Rich in the tonal shifts of memory, encompassing both elegies and odes to 'Stank face, ' DJs, and 'my durag, ' the collection erupts in celebration in a poem titled with the symbol for chief, which opens, 'Black joy circles. / Black joy ellipses.'"--Rebecca Morgan Frank, Poetry Foundation's Harriet Books

"A powerful and stirring debut from one of the most unique voices in American poetry. . . . This is a technically skilled, deeply thoughtful collection that will resonate especially well for fans of Claudia Rankine and Danez Smith."--Ronnie K. Stephens, The Poetry Question

"In an era of sloganeering and solipsism, Saltwater Demands a Psalm is a healing, a diasporic divination, an elegy of ancestral elegance. Kweku Abimbola beseeches us: Do you want this / name? / Do you want this name / which is only a prayer? and hymns us a portrait of fully realized Black humanity to counter the bullet riddled headlines and internet memes. Here is a poet with enough heart to Sankofa across oceans, fasten his durag, and libate the page with Adinkra insight. Dear reader, be wise: fix your mind to wonder, lift this tome to your dome and Drink! Drink! Drink!"--Tyehimba Jess

"Saltwater Demands a Psalm, arrives with the assured confidence that comes from an understanding of the force of ritual in poetry--there is, in these poems, a deep sense of tradition and history that is transported through lyric assurance into a poetics that feels excitingly fresh. Abimbola . . . is helping us see ourselves anew, with the power of ancestral vision."--Kwame Dawes

"'Sentence the body free, ' Kweku Abimbola writes, joining the poets whose books are ceremonies of becoming. Touching language to a complex circuitry of Black histories, he listens toward the sometimes hidden, shared memory and practices between us. 'Let us make more / than language, ' he lifts our faces to each other, and his beautiful offering flourishes with collaboration, devotion, possibility."--Aracelis Girmay

"Built of rituals old and new, Kweku Abimbola's debut ties together life and afterlife, hope and mercy, the knowledge of blood and the long memory of water. . . . Abimbola is a wonderful storyteller who has picked the poem as his lute to play for his beloved people."--Danez Smith