Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis

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A meditation on the black female figure throughout time. This poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it, yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us. Reframes the black female. Tender and masterful. Hardback.

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WINNER OF THE 2015 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD -- Signed hardbacks while supply lasts!

This stunning poetry debut introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice.



A meditation on the black female figure throughout time. A tribute to a human history that embraces truth and adventure. A reframing of the black female that points out the borders of black beauty, black happiness, and black resilience.

This electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems that consider the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The title poem, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” is a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present. Titles that feature or comment on the black female figure in Western art.

Intersperced with Robin Lewis’s autobiographical poems, this book is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. She offers a new understanding of biography and the self.

This collection of poems questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin -- 500 years ago, 5,000 years ago, or more. And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story?

This poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all. Robin explores her own sometimes painful history with an aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race. A full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts. Hardback. ISBN 978-1-101-87543-8.

Robin Coste Lewis is a Provost’s Fellow in Poetry and Visual Studies at the University of Southern California. She received her BA from Hampshire College, her MFA in poetry from NYU, and an MTS in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from the Divinity School at Harvard. She's a previous finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, and has published her work in various journals and anthologies including The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition: Women in Literary Arts, VIDA, Phantom Limb, and Lambda Literary Review, among others.

Robin Coste Lewis has taught at Wheaton College, Hunter College, Hampshire College, and the NYU Low-Residency MFA in Paris. She was born in Compton, California, and her family is from New Orleans.

 

 

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