Sea Sharp

Black Cotton (2019)


Diverse and inherently political as the people of the African diaspora whom it celebrates, Black Cotton is a masterful showcase from a queer, black poet whose cross-continental writing and performances have been described as ‘a visceral and sonic world of teeth and tornadoes’. Kindred to Sea Sharp’s prize-winning debut, The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut (2017), and also deeply rooted in the poet’s native Kansas, Black Cotton swoops over the untamed Atlantic to look at the woolly ways intolerance flourishes. In detangling intergenerational trauma, Black Cotton softens the damage caused by internalised oppression, exposing the shame of normative whiteness. As the opening poem suggests, this voluminous collection is so much more than just a ‘reasonable apology for lookin’ like that’. Rather, it takes the reader by the short and curlies, an unflinching, uncompromising effort to illuminate how we mistreat each other and ourselves. Dangerously vulnerable like wisps of afro-textured hair, the poems of Black Cotton shed delicate strands of truth for any ambitious reader itching to comb through these unruly pages.

ISBN: 9781906742874-1-1 Category: Tags: , ,

Praise and Poems


We are the ones you don’t
see in magazines. We do
not have perfect smiles, that
lodge pearls for teeth, some
heavenly gateway bursting
with lights. Not us. Our eye-
lids are thin, but sharp. Some-
times when we take up space,
it’s just easier to decide we’re
not even there, in the back-
ground doing just about no-
thing more than existing. So
we plaster our own images
around the Matrix, a needed
reminder. Look. See these
remnants, a palimpsest of
empty joy. We often find our-
selves tucked beneath covers
and back jackets like love-
able characters who dance
and die and we slightly shift
aside should anyone notice

we are still here.

Sea Sharp writes poems that devastate and inspire. After an impressive debut, Black Cotton sees them dare to return to images from childhood that deeply haunt them still and probe, too, both racial privilege and experiences of migration and prejudice: ‘My skin has become the most intimidating colour in my entire wardrobe … Her Majesty the Queen has outlawed my favourite insects’. These fresh and distinctive, politically urgent and structurally daring poems are sensitive throughout to the power of sound and silence to make the body tremble. Here is an important voice. Here is language that crackles.                                             ‒ John McCullough

Everything you ever wanted to know about race, gender and sexuality but were afraid to ask, Sea Sharp tells it without fear or apology but with confidence and control … Black Cotton is a book you’ll want to share and talk about with friends, family and lovers.          ‒ Dean Atta

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