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Wilkinson

Perfect Black

Speaker Date: 9/2/2021

From the foreword, written by Nikky Finney: “In Perfect Black, Crystal Wilkinson walks us back down the road she first walked as a girl, wanders us through the trees that lined the road where she grew up, where her sensibilities as a woman and a writer were first laid bare. In one of the first poems that opens the collection she is a woman looking back on her life, on the soil and mountains that first stamped the particular sound of her voice and she is deeply inquisitive about how it all fell into place: ‘The map of me can’t be all hills & mountains even though I’ve been country all my life. The twang in my voice has moved downhill to the flat land a time or two.’ Perfect Black is a book of poems and legends about ancestry, culture, and the terrain of a Black girl becoming. It is a narrow and spacious terrain that enters the bloodstream of this black writing girl’s body early. It is a country that she never truly exits even though different zip codes continue to fly through her wild, wondrous, winding life. We read and we hold on too.”

Meet the Author

Wilkinson-Crystal
Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson, a USA Artist Fellow, is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for the John Dos Passos Award, the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from the Yaddo Foundation, Hedgebrook, The Vermont Studio Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and others. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in The Kenyon Review, STORY, Agni Literary Journal, Emergence, Oxford American and Southern Cultures. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program.