Allison Joseph’s sharp, lyrical collection casts aside shame and celebrates contemporary life as a strong black woman.
Confessions of a Barefaced Woman captures the voice and experience of an entire generation of women. Resonant and honest, it reads as memoir poetry that transcends the red tape laid out around topics of family, and community, and sexuality, marriage, academia, friendships.
Below, a selection of poems from the volume that we loved the most.
It Wasn’t A Love Connection
Better get out of that funk, girlfriend,
fix your hair and brush your teeth.
make you feel so bad about yourself
that you can’t get out of bed.
I know he stood you up, left you
waiting in the bar while he watched
the NFL or NBA or some such thing,
and I know you are tired of trifling
men with their pleadings, excuses,
and outright lies. You have got
to get yourself together, do justice
to the body and
in her infinite wisdom. That’s right,
don’t you think he would have made men
just a little bit more celestial?
She’s testing us, see, making us
These men round here are trouble,
but little do they know that when
both sexes get up to those ivory gates,
God will have all their lies and deceits
on videotape, newest technology and everything.
So get up, wash your face, and put on
that blouse you look so good in.
We’re going out to turn down
all the Mr. Pitifuls that come our way,
divine providence clearly on our side.
Some of My Best Friends Are White People
When Katie said, And when you told the audience,
‘my husband’s here,’ everyone in that all-white place
turned around to find the black man there,
I knew that my secret weapons against racism
were my white friends themselves, my beloved race traitors.
That audience assumed that my husband had to be black,
because I’m black, and clearly proud to be so . . .
The assumptions go on and on, and most times,
it’s my white friends who can see them, critique them.
I’m so used to assumptions based on my color
that they don’t register anymore; like static on a television screen,
they’re there, but I ignore them. So I shouldn’t be startled
when my husband detects rudeness I don’t hear,
not surprised when Carolyn’s shocked when we
are led to a back-of-the-room table at Denny’s
after forty minutes. My friends remind me
not to be used to it when some remark slips out
of some other white mouth, that this is not business
as usual. But it’s business in America, a country
where I can’t afford the price of my own vigilance,
monitoring the toll of racism too big a job for just one race.
Excerpt From: Allison Joseph. “Confessions of a Barefaced Woman.” Reprinted with permission from Red Hen Press.