Skip to content

To Emit Teal

Appearance Date: 10/29/2022

The title of this new volume of poetry by upfromsumdirt packs a lot of meaning and intention into a mere three words. It is dedicated to Emmett Till, and more recent Black victims of violence, and is entirely an urgent demand for social justice. But don’t be fooled by the play on words, for upfromsumdirt isn’t playing around here. This isn’t a poet merely having fun with language (well, there are points where he clearly is enjoying himself), but rather a reclaiming and reinvention of language in order to engage it in the serious work at hand. In “Tea with Bojangles” he proclaims “reinvisionism is a freedom / if not a luxury, the tongues of your / indignant gods in my painted mouth like / a mud dauber in pink cotton candy….” He knows that words have power to sting, and one word that he uses repeatedly is “Africadabra,” an act of conjuring, invoked to break “connection to the God of Chains… / His shackles left you spouting slave-words / from your spirit….” He knows the very language in which he writes is a legacy of slavery, and he shatters and reforges it, breaking the chain, making it a new thing. Freeing it, and with it himself, and us.

Meet the Author


upfromsumdirt is the author of four chapbooks and the full-length collection, Deifying A Total Darkness available through He is a 2010 winner of Kentucky’s Al Smith Award for Art (as Ronald Davis), whose visual work has graced the covers of The African American Review, Tidal Basin Review, Mythium Literary Journal, and various book covers for a variety of published authors. You can view his portfolio at, and if so moved you can find him across the spectrum of social media sites.