Gayl Jones, the novelist Toni Morrison discovered decades ago and Tayari Jones recently called her favorite writer, offers 2 books in one with this volume of poetry. Jones renders the saga of Palmares, a foundational tale in the annals of colonial terrorism and Black resistance, in verse, told in the voices of the characters in her epic novel Palmares.
In the late 17th century, the fugitive slave enclave of Palmares was destroyed by Portuguese colonists. Amid the flight and re-enslavement of Palmares's inhabitants emerges the love story of Almeyda and Anninho. In Song for Anninho, Almeyda moves between a dark present, in which she is once again enslaved and abused by a terrible captor, and memories of her lover, Anninho, whom she believes to have been killed. Song for Almeyda, released now for the first time, is told in the voices of Anninho and his fellow warriors.
Fans of Corregidora (one of the New Yorker's "Best Books We Read in 2020" picks), which tracked the legacy of enslavement, and Palmares will especially appreciate these verses. Brimming with intimacy, history, and revolution, the poems collected serve as a declaration of decolonial love.
Gayl Jones was born in Kentucky in 1949. She attended Connecticut College and Brown University, and has taught at Wellesley and the University of Michigan. Her books include Corregidora, Eva's Man, Mosquito, and The Healing, the last a National Book Award finalist and New York Times Notable Book of the Year.