What Noise Against the Cane

Finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry

"Bailey invites us to see what twenty-first-century life is like for a young woman of the Black diaspora in the long wake of a history of slavery, brutality, and struggling for freedoms bodily and psychological."—Carl Phillips, from the Foreword


From the Blog

Sadie Alexander on Black Achievement

October 5, 2021

Sadie Alexander was an outstanding economic historian whose speeches relied heavily on her knowledge of European and American history. Prior to taking courses in European history at the University of Pennsylvania, Alexander studied the history of African Americans while a student at the M Street High School, which was established by Congress in November 1870 as one of the first public high schools for African American students (its original name was the Preparatory High School for Negro Youth).

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Presentations of the Self

September 28, 2021

I was once invited to write a poem based on photographs of self-presentation housed at the International Center for Photography. One photograph stood out to me perhaps because of the verdant background, or because the subject, whom I perceived as a young Black woman, reminded me of someone I knew—an old friend, a long-departed family member, or some latent aspect of myself.

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