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Walking Gentry Home

A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse

Alora Young

An “extraordinary” (Laurie Halse Anderson) young poet traces the lives of her foremothers in West Tennessee, from those enslaved centuries ago to her grandmother, her mother, and finally herself, in this stunning debut celebrating Black girlhood and womanhood throughout American history.

 

Walking Gentry Home tells the story of Alora Young’s ancestors, from the unnamed women forgotten by the historical record but brought to life through Young’s imagination; to Amy, the first of Young’s foremothers to arrive in Tennessee, buried in an unmarked grave, unlike the white man who enslaved her and fathered her child; through Young’s great-grandmother Gentry, unhappily married at fourteen; to her own mother, the teenage beauty queen rejected by her white neighbors; down to Young in the present day as she leaves childhood behind and becomes a young woman. 

The lives of these girls and women come together to form a unique American epic in verse, one that speaks of generational curses, coming of age, homes and small towns, fleeting loves and lasting consequences, and the brutal and ever-present legacy of slavery in our nation’s psyche. Each poem is a story in verse, and together they form a heart-wrenching and inspiring family saga of girls and women connected through blood and history.

Informed by archival research, the last will and testament of an enslaver, formal interviews, family lore, and even a DNA test, 
Walking Gentry Home gives voice to those too often muted in America: Black girls and women.


Alora Young is a college student, an actor, and the Youth Poet Laureate of the Southern United States. Her poetry has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and she has performed her poetry on CNN, CBS, and the TEDx stage. Originally from Tennessee, Young currently attends Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

 

  • Publisher: ‎Hogarth (August 2, 2022)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Paperback: ‎240 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎0593498003
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780593498002
  • Reading age: ‎13 - 17 years
  • Item Weight: ‎8.2 ounces
  • Dimensions: ‎5.6 x 0.63 x 8.26 inches