A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland

A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland

by DaMaris Hill


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Nominated for an NAACP Image Award
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 History Title for the season
Booklist's Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction titles for the year
BookRiot's "50 Must-Read Poetry Collections"
Most Anticipated Books of the Year—
The Rumpus, Nylon

A revelatory work in the tradition of Claudia Rankine's Citizen, DaMaris Hill's searing and powerful narrative-in-verse bears witness to American women of color burdened by incarceration.

“It is costly to stay free and appear / sane.”

From Harriet Tubman to Assata Shakur, Ida B. Wells to Sandra Bland and Black Lives Matter, black women freedom fighters have braved violence, scorn, despair, and isolation in order to lodge their protests. In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, DaMaris Hill honors their experiences with at times harrowing, at times hopeful responses to her heroes, illustrated with black-and-white photographs throughout.

For black American women, the experience of being bound has taken many forms: from the bondage of slavery to the Reconstruction-era criminalization of women; from the brutal constraints of Jim Crow to our own era’s prison industrial complex, where between 1980 and 2014, the number of incarcerated women increased by 700%.* For those women who lived and died resisting the dehumanization of confinement—physical, social, intellectual—the threat of being bound was real, constant, and lethal.

In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, Hill presents bitter, unflinching history that artfully captures the personas of these captivating, bound yet unbridled African-American women. Hill’s passionate odes to Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, and others also celebrate the modern-day inheritors of their load and light, binding history, author, and reader in an essential legacy of struggle.

*The Sentencing Project

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635572612
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 646,015
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

DaMaris B. Hill is assistant professor of creative writing and African American and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky. Her previous works are The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage and Jim Crow: Staking Claims in the American Heartland, and a collection of poetry, \Vi-ze-bel\\Teks-chers\. She has two PhDs, one in English and one in women and gender studies. A former service member of the United States Air Force, she lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Bound 1

Harriet Beecher Spruill-Hill 3

Shut Up in My Bones 4

Lucille Clifton 7

In the Garden 9

Study the Masters 11

Miz Lucille 13

Lucy Sayles 15

Licorice for Lucy 16

Bound.fettered. 19

Annie Cutler 21

The Concession of Annie Cutler 22

Alice Clifton 25

The Love Song of Alice Clifton 27

Black Bess 29

A Mermaid's Stroll 31

Ella Jackson 33

Bewitched 35

Em Lee and Stella Weldon 37

Em Lee's Sweet on Stella 39

Mary Hannah Tabbs 41

Lusts and Gaines 42

Ida Howard 45

What You Oughta Know about Ida 47

Laura Williams 49

Stewing 51

Annie Wilson 53

Frisk 55

Black White Criminality in Insane Asylum 57

Black Bird Medley 58

Bound/demarcation; boundaries 63

Ida B. Wells 65

λv=c ♥v>>! 66

There Are Thieves in the Temples 68

Translation 1 69

Translation 2 70

Translation 3 72

Translation 4 73

Translation 5 74

Translation 6 76

Translation 7 79

Zora Neale Hurston 81

Zora Neale Hurston 82

Claudia Jones 85

Claudia Jones 87

Eartha Ritt 89

Eartha Kitt 91

Sonia Sanchez 93

This Granny Is a Gangster 95

Sandra Bland 97

#SandySpeaks Is a Choral Refrain 98

Bound √hurdle; spring forth 101

Harriet Tubman 103

Harriet Is Holy 105

Joan Little 107

Joan Little 108

Ruby McCollum 111

Ruby McCollum 113

Grace Jones 115

Amazing Grace and Unloved Gentiles 117

Fannie Lou Hamer 119

Magnolia's State 121

Bound-hem; hemmed in (for Assata shakur) 123

Assata Shakur 125

Revolution: Assata in 1956 126

Retina: Assata in 1970 129

Every Black Woman Knows the Constitution: Assata in 1972 131

Truth Is a Mirror in the Hands of God: Assata in 1976 132

Exodus: Assata in 1979 135

The Education of the Taw Marble: Assata a Timeless Lesson in Geography and Geometry 136

A Reckoning: Assata in 1980 139

Space Program: Assata in 1981 141

The Arms Race/The War on Drugs: Assata in 1984 142

Bound ∞hinge 145

Gynnya McMillen 147

Trainers for Gynnya McMillen 149

Patriot and Prisoner 151

Coping 155

A Recipe for a Son 157

Gabriel Casts a Knuckle 158

Remains 161

Praying for Sons 163

Acknowledgments 165

Citations 167

Photo Credits 169

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