What Noise Against the Cane

Desiree C. Bailey; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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The 115th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets is a lyrical and polyvocal exploration of what it means to fight for yourself

“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

"Desiree C. Bailey sings true in her debut. Wherever this voice goes a Caribbean sun travels with it transfiguring what a maroon might overhear—a call awaiting response."—Yusef Komunyakaa

The 115th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, What Noise Against the Cane is a lyric quest for belonging and freedom, weaving political resistance, Caribbean folklore, immigration, and the realities of Black life in America. Desiree C. Bailey begins by reworking the epic in an oceanic narrative of bondage and liberation in the midst of the Haitian Revolution. The poems move into the contemporary Black diaspora, probing the mythologies of home, belief, nation, and womanhood. Series judge Carl Phillips observes that Bailey’s “poems argue for hope and faith equally. . . . These are powerful poems, indeed, and they make a persuasive argument for the transformative powers of steady defiance.”

Desiree C. Bailey is the author of the fiction chapbook In Dirt or Saltwater and has been published in Best American Poetry, Academy of American Poets, Callaloo, and elsewhere. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and grew up in Queens, New York.
 
Carl Phillips is the award-winning author of fifteen books of poetry, most recently Wild Is the Wind and Pale Colors in a Tall Field. This is his tenth and final year as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

"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

"What Noise Against the Cane ruminates family and place, culture and daily rituals, and Desiree C. Bailey’s voice sings it all true, lived and imagined. There’s strength and give in each step of a journey, and traditional music informs this strong collection. Nimble phrasing and natural soil fuse into an extended narrative. Wherever this voice goes a Caribbean sun travels with it. The single, long line at the end of each page—as if a heart-line—accrues and transfigures this collection. Identity shines in each poem. And, as if a maroon might overhear, or a call awaits a response, What Noise Against the Cane embodies an intimate conjuring that fully engages the reader.—Yusef Komunyakaa

"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

"Desiree C. Bailey sings true in her debut What Noise Against the Cane. Wherever this voice goes a Caribbean sun travels with it transfiguring what a maroon might overhear—a call awaiting response."—Yusef Komunyakaa
 

“Bailey can look forward to a great future as a poet.”—L. Ali Khan, The New York Journal of Books
ISBN: 9780300256543
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
96 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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