Many thanks to the Massachusetts Center for the Book
for naming Had Slaves
a 2011 Must Read in Poetry.
Had Slaves. Two words, stumbled across while going through family papers, upended everything Catherine Sasanov thought she knew about her Missouri ancestors. Written out of the poet's discovery of slaveholding among her ancestors, and the fragmented evidence left behind of the 11 men, women, and children held in their bondage, Had Slaves pieces together lives endured from slavery to Jim Crow across a landscape lost beneath big box stores, subdivisions, and tourist sites. Avoiding Gone With the Wind stereotype Sasanov takes her readers to slavery's less expected locale: where big house means log cabin and plantation is a small grain farm with tarantulas mating in the corn. An unflinching look at a stumbled-upon past set in motion after finding the words, Had slaves.
Sasanov's third book of poems, Had Slaves was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and winner of the Sentence Book Award. Firewheel Editions presents the award annually to a manuscript consisting entirely or substantially of prose poems or other hard-to-define work situated in the grey areas between poetry and other genres -- work that promotes the mission of Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics to publish work that extends conceptions of what the prose poem is or can be.
"Sasanov demonstrates here, as she has in the past, that it is possible to tell a story in verse that takes advantage of what makes poetry so powerful, its magnificent potential for restraint, economy, and a kind of emotional precision that nearly defies comprehension."
Sima Rabinowitz, NewPages.com
"After research and soul search, Catherine Sasanov leaves us with a distillation of thought on the brink of extinction. Poems that breathe with the urgency of last resort, as though every other means of expression had been exhausted."
Ruth Maleczech, Mabou Mines Theater Company
For More About Had Slaves
See the Jamaicaway Books interview with the author on youtube.
Had Slaves Can Be Purchased From
Firewheel Editions, Amazon, the Author, and Small Press Distribution