Build Yourself a Boat
Author: Camonghne Felix
Publisher: Haymarket Books (2019)
This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains. Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.
“With Build Yourself a Boat, Camonghne Felix heralds a thrillingly new form of storytelling, as much investigation as it is song, as broken as it is doused in genuine strength. These poems are packed with embodiments—not depictions—of Black female pain, empowerment, memory, and discovery. This is a fantastically tender book, generous in its precision and thoughtful in its experimentation. This debut does not come quietly or shyly—Felix is an applaudable master of language, inventively carving and pulling at words and sounds to assemble the parts of this story. Here is a voice that commands, insists, reiterates, and consumes—a voice that has earned its right to shout freely, with curiosity and aliveness and heart.”
“Every few seasons, we get a piece of art that sees us whole, that knows the smell of our hiding places, that will never let us hear it or ourselves the same again. Build Yourself a Boat is one of the most soulful, genius pieces of art that has ever seen, felt and heard me. I tried to run away from these poems. They welcomed, understood and side-eyed my fear. I look forward to bringing this book into all my classes, my relationships and sacred rooms for the rest of my life. It's really that good.”
2019 National Book Award Longlist