Crystal Wilkinson Pens New Book “Perfect Black”

Perfect Black
Crystal Wilkinson
Foreword by Nikky Finney
Illustrated by Ronald W. Davis

Crystal Wilkinson combines her deep love for her country roots with her passion for language and storytelling to craft compelling lyrics and prose in this collection about Black girlhood, racism, and political awareness. Imbued with tenderness and insightful imagery of growing up in the south—Royal Crown Hair Dressing pomade; the sweet, tangy, tartness of blackberry preserves; cold water pulled from a well; sautéed onions, garlic, fatback, and greens simmering in an iron skillet—this work evokes ghosts and ancestors as companions and guides and demonstrates Wilkinson’s full engagement with the land and the people she knows.

The fiction writer turned poet muses on such topics as the politics of her Black body, lost fathers, motherhood, mental illness, rape, and religion. It is a captivating conversation about life, love, loss, and pain, interwoven with striking illustrations by her longtime partner Ron Davis. Wilkinson avows, “Country is as much a part of me as my full lips, my wide hips, my dreadlocks, my high cheekbones. The way the words roll off my tongue is the voice of my people.” And her intuitive voice exemplifies, in this electrifying collection, that Black is exquisite. Black is poignant. Black is profound. Black is resilient. Black, indeed, is perfect.

Praise for Perfect Black
“If we are Black it should be Perfect. Crystal has shared a wonderful book. Curl up with a cup of soul and enjoy it.”— Nikki Giovanni, Poet

“Crystal Wilkinson’s Perfect Black is powerful witch-work. In these cascading lyrics, Wilkinson casts her glittering net of protection over the bodies and hearts of every Black girl. Read this book and swerve, in Wilkinson’s ‘perfect cursive,’ along paths ancestral and deliciously strange.”—Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia

“Utilizing evocative cinematic images that walk right off the page so easily you can taste the seasonings, smell the honeysuckle, feel the blades of grass beneath your bare feet and hear Crystal’s allegiance to mountains, creeks and people the color of tobacco from the very first line.”—Frank X Walker, author of Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York

About the Author
Crystal Wilkinson is the author of The Birds of Opulence, Blackberries, Blackberries, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature, and Water Street, a finalist for both the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. The winner of the 2008 Denny Plattner Award in Poetry from Appalachian Heritage magazine and the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, she serves as associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky.

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