If: 5 Kitchen Table Press Covers
I was recently commissioned by Casco, in the Netherlands to describe 5 of my favorite book covers from books published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. It was my honor to offer poetic words in homage, honor and gratitude to the existence of these books, which saved my life and made it possible. I am excited to share these words with you in honor of the intergenerational, transnational possibilities that Barbara Smith and the many warriors who gave their time, love, sweat and genius to the Kitchen Table Press Movement worked to nourish.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
P.S. Update: Susan Yung, graphic designer for these covers (except Narratives) reached out to me today. Infinite gratitude!
Home Girls (ed. Barbara Smith)
if sunlight came in boxes and you drew in chalk where it should land on your street. if your street had chalklines not for dead bodies but for hopscotch and books. if you counted in chalk how many times i read this book and didn’t cross over. and then used sunlight like a lazer overtop. turned sunlight into thick letters home. then you would have it.
This Bridge Called My Back (ed. Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anzaldua)
if you crawled. if you left your clothes and crawled and were not breathing. if the sun drew you crawling across sunset. if the sun let you crawl in a maroon context to freedom. and you hadn’t eaten recently. if your body was maroon and yellow and made to hold and be held by letters and your back shaped the sky and your breasts reached for earth.
Cuentos (ed. Alma Gomez, Cherrie Moraga & Mariana Romo-Carmona)
if you took hands. if you took upside down question marks. and then you underlined the combs, the mountains, the typing hands. if you let the space left by questions be upside down and black. and then you stamped it on the night with sunlight. questions falling next to mountains again. again. and you used those same sunstreaked hands to make lines that will not hold, that break on purpose.
A Comrade is as Precious as a Rice Seedling (by Mila Aguilar)
if you grew some bamboo a hundred years ago and asked the gods to sit with you and your bowl and your sticks and your seeds. if you waited a hundred years until it all turned gray like dots. remembered by ghosts and then you came back. if you came back red as blood and splintered on all edges and you found that same place where you had been with seeds and such a beautiful bowl and a bamboo crossroads convinced that you could eat and bleed again.
Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women (by Cheryl Clarke)
first find the photograph. no, first print the couch with leaves and call us over. then dress and redress us. then don’t turn the heat on so we will sit here close. on the couch and on the floor so we will cross our arms. and say something funny. or better yet, just keep us waiting so we will look at each other and laugh more than smile. then print us over red. print us black now over red as bold as anything.