Winner of the 2011 Motherwell Prize
A daughter, emancipated yet blindfolded spectator, feels her way around the room of her father’s legacy: reconciliation without reconciliation.
A simultaneous subversion and reinvention of the poetics of identity, Harmony Holiday’s debut poetry collection and accompanying audio CD explores the “impossible/mythorealistic place” where family is a spectral shadow, and where imagination coincides with history’s false faith in tradition. Using the trope of baseball as her analog to the overused spangle of jazz, Holiday invokes a nostalgia that avoids nostalgia, writing poems that live in the isolated togetherness of race and culture, and in the dialectic between oppression and decadent experimentation.
“Language, thought, and feeling are polyrhythmic and polyphonic in Harmony Holiday’s Negro League Baseball. Its meters and meanings are restless, questing… She maps the charged terrains of family, race, and history… The sensory material of a culture created against all odds, embracing every oddity… Each poem is a new expedition, a fresh experiment… She has used all of this to find new and surprising routes to beauty.”
“Harmony Holiday moves at the assured, funkdefied velocity of a poet on her own blazing path. Here, feeling is fused to thinking, manifold linguistics are fused to manifold music. These poems make me ask, as any bona fide debut should: ‘How the hell did this poet come to write this well?’ Negro League Baseball is a bewitching and unabashedly original book!”