Lucy Negro, Redux: The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet
Caroline Randall Williams
Street Date: 02/08/2019
Available Now at Third Man Storefronts and Online
Lucy Negro, Redux: The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet
by Caroline Randall Williams
The book of poems now a major ballet!!
"Part lyrical narrative, part bluesy riff, part schoolyard chant and part holy incantation, the book is an unflinching investigation of otherness and a dead-sexy exploration of the intersection of identity and desire. Above all it is a witty and audacious rejoinder to literary history and its systematic suppression of female voices. Especially black female voices." - The New York Times
Part Savvy Lit Crit, part Blues chart, part hip revenge-femme-lyric, part imagined Interracial Romance Saga disguised as poems, In Lucy Negro, Redux:The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet, poet Caroline Randall Williams plays the literary Race Card and cuts the whole deck, moving backwards in time in and forward in mind, archeologically offering a precise and seductive command performance of the hidden temperament of a specific and beautiful “Dark Lady”–both used and loved. Williams unearths Lucy by working her own mojo of intelligent vengeance and a dual aesthetic of inquiry and minimal, tour de force exegesis. Travel with Williams through the sublime racial moments of famous sonnets to a cultural critique of the work of Mr. Whiteness Him Bad Bard Self, William Shakespeare. Lucy as radical muse. Lucy as newly-freed verse news. Move over Othello, no more easy getting’ ovah, Lucy Negro aka Black Luce has, double-brilliantly and double inventively, fully arrived on fire! To add more heat, Williams' book has been adapted to the ballet stage by Nashville Ballet's Paul Vasterling with music composed by Rhiannon Giddens. In February 2019 see Nashville Ballet debut Lucy Negro Redux in Nashville followed by a special performance at the Big Ears festival, Knoxville, Tennessee in March.
Lucy Negro, Redux: The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet features Williams' poems, a conversation between the poet and Paul Vasterling, Artistic Director of the Nashville Ballet, about their collaborative process, excerpts from the ballet's libretto, and extensive photos.
Praise for Lucy Negro, Redux: The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet:
"Caroline Randall Williams's Lucy Negro, Redux is as finely polished as it provocatively dirty. Thank God! In a literary landscape where we usually get one or the other from literary art, this is a massive achievement. Williams gives us adorned black women tricksters, bluesy interracial situations and relationships without an iota of sentimentality or aw shucksism. More than any book I've read in the last decade, Williams forces us to reckon with our own investments in vengeance, folly and tenderness. This is stunning work." - Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy.
"In Lucy Negro, Redux, Caroline Randall Williams has unearthed a new folk hero, a harbinger of the suppressed Black feminine. The voice in these exceptional poems is an active subversion to deep-rooted, but still relevant, western misogyny. Lucy Negro is no one’s muse, side-piece, or hush thing; she is an ironic blues in a familiar Shakespearean tapestry. The rhythmic vernacular and authentic lexicon urges us to read these poems out loud: I break it if I bought it,/ I own it if I caught it,/ I spend it if I got it./ Is this a 16thcentury European or the reincarnation of Bessie Smith? She is both. Randall Williams reminds us that the past is created from the now moment. As much as Lucy is historical artifact, she is a voice we need right now. This is more than historical poetry that relays facts. This is an unapologetic Black sonnet/song. The author has successfully avoided that debut we tend to disown later in our writing careers; rather, Randall Williams has produced a manuscript that should be heard, sung, examined, then reexamined until Lucy comes crawling out our collective eyes, ears, throats and reticence." - Derrick Harriell, author of Cotton, Ropes, and Strippers in Wonderland
"Caroline Randall Williams' debut collection of poetry, Lucy Negro, Redux, is a fearless, mesmerizing accomplishment. Brilliant, sensual, and always powerful, Lucy Negro, Redux dares us (and all Others) to gaze directly at the complex silhouette of beauty shackled inside of Shakespeare's famous 'Dark Lady Sonnets', and the playwright's own shrouded avowal "...I will declare that Beauty herself is black." Explicit in imagination and invention, Williams' achievement in these pages examines the (mis)coded vernacular of desire and its relationship to blackness, in plain sight. Black Luce, no longer stranded and silenced in a colorless narrative, blazes and burns with agency in Williams' symphonic odium of desire, race, and history. Williams writes, "Lucy, Lucy, even you's God's flesh."/This world ain't wanna see that yet." As Williams' (and Lucy's) readers, we are asked to witness the piecing vision of this collection, which is astute in its nuanced gaze at the psyche of poetry as flesh. Dazzling in ambition, Lucy Negro, Redux draws back the bright skin of language to reveal a raw and original (Blk!) nerve." - Rachel Eliza Griffiths, author of Mule and Pear (winner of the 2012 Black Caucus American Library Association’s Inaugural Poetry Award), and Lighting the Shadow