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woke up no light: poems (Hardcover)

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A poignant and rousing debut book of poetry from the former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, CA—the acclaimed, best-selling author of the novel Nightcrawling

Leila Mottley follows her trailblazing first novel with a perfectly pitched first collection of poems that demonstrate her spark and scope. woke up no light reckons with themes of reparations, restitution, and desire. Moving in sections from “girlhood” to “neighborhood” to “falsehood” to, finally, “womanhood,” these poems are the breathing life of a Black girl as she grows into adulthood, simultaneously youthful and profound. Each poem is a searing vignette, capturing the dissonance of Black girlhood through visceral language. The collection is sharp and raw, wise and rhythmic, a combination that lights up each page. From unearthing histories to searching for ways to dream of a future in a world constantly on the brink of disaster, Mottley sets forth personal and political revelation with piercing detail. 

woke up no light confirms Leila Mottley’s arrival and demonstrates the enduring power of her voice—brave and distinctive and thoroughly her own.

About the Author

LEILA MOTTLEY is the author of the novel Nightcrawling, an Oprah’s Book Club pick and a New York Times best seller. She is also the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She was born and raised in Oakland, where she continues to live.

Praise For…

“Leila Mottley writes with the introspection of Zora Neale Hurston, the righteous rage of Bobby Seales, and a lyrical wit mirroring Souls of Mischief. Each section of woke up no light is a testimony to living and thriving; and proof that one of Oakland’s mightiest heirlooms has nothing to lose. Mottley aims to free the girlchild from the bindings and blindings as she pens with such eloquent sharpness: ‘California says they might owe us a cent or two / if we can prove the cells that make us.’ 
woke no light is a revolution of words and worlds, readying to become. Poems centering the effect of street scriptures, gender roles, police brutality, and the humanity lost to celebritism; Mottley leaves no rock unturned and aims to set us all free.”  —Mahogany L. Browne, author of Chrome Valley and Vinyl Moon and poet-in-residence, Lincoln Center

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593319710
ISBN-10: 0593319710
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 128
Language: English