Captivity / Edition 1

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What are the forces that cause us to strike out and harm each other?  Captivity explores the way in which the individual is held hostage by society; how the forces of racism, sexism, and classism frequently express themselves as violence within the family.  The book also explores a deeper captivity, like the Jews in Egypt yearning for the Promised Land, the soul trapped in exile from God.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“There are poems that stick with you like a song that won’t stop repeating itself in your brain, poems whose cadences burrow into your bloodstream, orchestrating your breathing long before their sense attaches its hooks to your heart. Even after you think you’ve got a handle on a particular passage—how that imagery works to support the narrative, the interlocking patterns of the observed adn the unsaid—something elusive keeps sending you back to the page; and with each new reading, another layer of mystery will gently exhale and open up. Much like a favorite grandparent’s parable-disguised-as-an-anecdote, the poem will unfoldwhen you need it but least expect it, illuminating its revelations as you grow into the lessons life has to offer.”
—Washington Post

Captivity is a work of deep power and music. In the title poem, the speaker’s uncle displays animal pelts, blowing on the fur to show us its ‘shining underlife.’ Toi Derricotte’s poems show us our underlife, tender and dreadful. And they are vibrant poems, poems in the voice of the living creature, the one who escaped—and paused, and turned back, and saw, and cried out. This is one of the most beautiful and necessary voices in American poetry today.”

—Sharon Olds

“Toi Derricotte has lifted herself, and so she is able to transform experience into significant thought.”

—Louis Simpson

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Derricotte Natural Birth smoothly blends personal history, invention and reportage in her focus on the black female experience as a springboard for a broader examination of subjugation. Her unusual narrative prowess distinguishes the less formal, autobiographical first sections; ``Blackbottom,'' for example, describes family trips taken in childhood to neighborhoods that represent the speaker's own narrow escape--``black middle class, / we snickered, and were proud; / the louder the streets, the prouder''--and where throaty-voiced women can be overheard saying, ``I love to see a funeral, then I know it ain't mine.'' Style and structure grow more complex as Derricotte extends her discussion to other figures--children in ghetto schools, a nun tried but acquitted of killing her newborn baby. When she leaves the political, however, her poetry dulls; for instance, she finds that books ``exhaust / you, like convicts / or madmen / too eager to talk.'' Dec.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822954224
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1989
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 1,459,525
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Toi Derricotte is the author of The Undertaker's Daughter, The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem and professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

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