An archive of black everydayness, a catalog of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms, and customs. These American poems are both elegy and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception.
What’s most evident in Magical Negro is that there is nothing new under the sun. What has happened once will happen again. As a Black woman, this is a lesson that Parker has inherited and internalized. A history as muddied, as denied, and as multifarious as Black history inspires an artist such as Parker to take on many different personas and former lives. She embodies popular Black icons from photographs, music, and film, as in her poem about Diana Ross. She documents her own maturation as a Black woman, which includes meditations on, and resurrections of, the past and how she was conditioned. And, finally, she remains mindful of Black people, even those she’s never known but who bear a common heritage in their faces. Magical Negro is a reminder, finally, of the cycles of Black life, and Parker, moving fluidly through time and space, is a poet unafraid to immortalize them.
A riveting testimony to everyday blackness ... There is no distinct separation between the writer and her elegy. Parker is uncompromising with her interior life, and between stanzas puts it fully on display. She invites us into her bedroom and therapy sessions. We are left to experience the magnitude of the violated black body: Every day it is bitten with new guilt. It is a moving window into her day-to-day existence, a tenacious black woman rejecting oppressive standards of beauty in favor of profound self-acceptance ... Parker’s boldness and vulnerability are rewarded within the verse, which offers an inquiry of black genius ... Magical Negro’s soft radiance permeates the soul, inspiring a disquieting melancholy. It is wry and atmospheric, an epic work of aural pleasures and personifications that demands to be read–both as an account of a private life and as searing political protest.
A profound meditation on the history and future of Black liberation ... A searing indictment, an irreverent lampoon, and a desperately urgent work of poetry, to be read alongside the work of Eve L. Ewing, Tiana Clark, and Nicole Sealey.