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Poetry anthology spanning first 40 years of author's life. Poems address the tragedy and triumphs of love, life, motherhood and womanhood as the author matures.
"The Soul of a Black Woman" marks Cynthia's debut onto the literary scene. This poetry collection spans thirty-one of the author's first forty years and tells her story with great candor and heartache. She shares her innermost thoughts as she overcomes the crippling effects of fatherly rejection, the pain of first love, early pregnancy and the loss of that child, the insecurity of adolescence and the struggles of single parenthood to finally find herself and her place in the world. From beginning to end, it is a story of empowerment and triumph written during various stages of her life and told in four parts: "Little Girl Lost", "Between Two Worlds", "Natural Woman" and "A New Attitude, A New Direction".
In "Mama Says," a young girl searches for the daddy who left her. "Ghetto Child" tells the story of a child from the 'hood whose senseless death is mourned by only his mother. In "I Know Nothing of Africa," the author uses colorful language to describe her soul-stirring dream-journey to Africa and in "The Last Hanging Tree", she vividly recounts the lynching of a man as if she actually witnessed it. The title poem proclaims the magnificent power, remarkable resilience and undying spirit of the black woman, "the mother of all life." It is a celebration of all womanhood. Seven short stories round out this collection, the most compelling of which is "Just Like Mama."
From "Just Like Mama"-
Remembering these things made me realize how very blessed I was to have had my mama as long as I did. We were so close and all my training in womanhood as well as life was under the watchful eyes of this amazing woman. Mama taught me by example how to be proud, work hard and have self-respect at all times. After all, I represented not only myself, but also her and a long line of tough, resilient African-American "sistuhs." I thought of all this and as they lowered her body into the earth, I said a prayer for my mama, shed a tiny tear and tossed a rose onto her casket.
"Now you rest, Mama. Rest."
Then I turned, threw my shoulders back with pride, held my head high and was strong. In the end, I learned I WAS just like Mama and THAT wasn't a bad thing to be.
From "I Know Nothing of Africa"-
I know nothing of Africa
except what I have read in books
and seen on television.
Yet, as I descend on the city of Dakar,
my belly burns with an eerie sense of familiarity
like I have been here-
like I am coming home.
While in Senegal,
I make the pilgrimmage to Goree Island-
I want to open my mind to the past.
I have to know about it.
I envision the chains
and smell the putrid odor of mass captivity;
my stomach violently erupts
like a restless volcano.
Near Sierra Leone
I am mysteriously drawn
where the Gallinas River
feeds the bloodthirsty Atlantic.
As I imagine my kidnapped ancestors
for sale in this dungeon
it is too overwhelming-
I cry oceans of tears.
The Soul of a Black Woman
"It's extremely rare to see such powerful poetic storytelling this early in a poet's career, but Ms. Highsmith-Hooks definitely hits the mark with 'I Know Nothing of Africa.' "
"Her poems took me on a journey filled with empathy, sadness, happiness and finally, triumph. Just when I think she's done, I am provided with a glimpse of talent not yet released. I have not felt this way about poems since reading Maya Angelou, whose work of art I hold very dear and close to my heart."-Dee Dee in San Diego,CA
"I commend her totally for being able to put down on paper what so many other black women still have locked away."-Kim A. in San Diego
"Wonderful, beautiful and deep. This kind of poetry hits you right in your soul! 'The Soul of a Black Woman' is a gift and so is Cynthia's poetic delivery. Nothing but EXCELLENCE!!!' "-Glori Adams, A Reader
"C. Highsmith-Hooks is a talented author and poet. We loved 'The Last Hanging Tree!' "-Akirim Press
"Her 'I Know Nothing of Africa' moved me in a way that no poem has since 'The Creation'. As I read it, I was swept up in Cynthia's whirlwind journey: I too, 'could envision the chains and smell the odor of mass captivity.' I myself became captive. I felt Banta's lashes."-Timbooktu Reader
"I found 'The Last Hanging Tree' chillingly accurate and very moving. I was in tears when I finished reading it and I wondered to myself, 'how can someone who's never witnessed a lynching describe it so vividly?' It rocked me to my soul." -Authors Den Reader
Library of Congress: 2002092994
Book Publisher: Xlibris
No. of Pages: 140
Paper Weight (lb): 6.3
Illustrations (B&W): 14
Coated Paper: Yes