Saltwater Demands a Psalm
In Ghana's Akan tradition, on the eighth day of life a child is named according to the day of the week on which they were born. This marks their true birth. In Kweku Abimbola's rhapsodic debut, the intimacy of this practice yields an intricately layered poetics of time and body based in Black possibility, ancestry, and joy. While odes and praise songs celebrate rituals of self- and collective-care--of durags, stank faces, and dance--Abimbola's elegies imagine alternate lives and afterlives for those slain by police, returning to naming as a means of rebirth and reconnection following the lost understanding of time and space that accompanies Black death.
Saltwater Demands a Psalm creates a cosmology in search of Black eternity governed by Adinkra symbols--pictographs central to Ghanaian language and culture in their proverbial meanings--and rooted in units of time created from the rhythms of Black life.These poems groove, remix, and recenter African language and spiritual practice to rejoice in liberation's struggles and triumphs. Abimbola's poetry invokes the ecstasy and sorrow of saying the names of the departed, of seeing and being seen, of being called and calling back.
About this Author
Kweku Abimbola earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Shade Literary Arts, 20.35 Africa, The Common, and elsewhere. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.
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