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Yona Harvey

Visiting Poet

The final lines of Yona Harvey’s collection You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love (Four Way Books) echo past its final pages: “& when the glaciers get to melting, / all God’s rivers we shall haunt. All God’s rivers we shall haunt.” Afaa M. Weaver celebrates how Harvey’s poetry “lives in the marrow bones of ancestry,” that the troubled histories and interrupted conversations she interrogates are part of her “unique, multimedia gift…evidence of an awakening only a few poets ever approach.” With dynamic enjambment and time and image manipulation, her genre-blurring projects are indicative of deep observation and reaction, of the sounds and rhythms of voices interwoven across time. She grounds her work in the resistance of Black women, of what is inherited and lost. Her work is inspired by afrofuturism, and her writing is a place of convergence of voice, culture, style, generations, and place.

Yona Harvey is also the author of her debut collection Hemming the Water (Four Way Books) and was among the first Black women to write for Marvel, where she co-wrote Black Panther: World of Wakanda and Black Panther & the Crew with Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates, respectively. She has been anthologized many times, most recently in Letters to the Future: Black Women / Radical Writing (Kore Press), and was awarded the Carol R. Brown Achievement Award from the Heinz Foundation as well as the inaugural Lucille Clifton Legacy award in poetry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is currently the Tammis Day Professor of Poetry at Smith College, and this year’s Cromwell poet. She serves on the editorial board of Poetry Daily, and is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

Co-sponsored by the departments of English Language & Literature, Africana Studies, and the Cromwell Committee

Featured Works by Yona Harvey:
“I worked hard so my girls didn’t have to serve nobody else like I did except God”
Sonnet for a Tall Flower Blooming at Dinnertime
Dark and Lovely After take-Off (A Future)

About Yona

Poetry Center Reading Date: November 2023