Author: Simone John
Publisher: Octopus Books (2017)
Testify, Simone John's first full-length book of poems, experiments with documentary poetics to uplift stories of Black people impacted by state-sanctioned violence. The book's first section weaves Rachel Jeantel's testimony in the Trayvon Martin trial with Kendrick Lamar lyrics, fixed form and found poems, and personal artifacts. The second section centers on the audio of the dashboard recording that captured Sandra Bland's fatal police encounter. Excerpts from this exchange are punctuated with elegies for other dead black women, creating a larger commentary about race and gender-based violence. Testify is ultimately a book of witness. It "burdens" its readers "with knowing." Combined, both chapters serve as an unflinching critique of race and gender supremacy in the United States.