The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Bloodwarm by Taylor Byas

This selection, chosen by guest curator Addie Tsai, is from Bloodwarm by Taylor Byas, released by Variant Lit in 2021. 


Source Text: ‘Have you noticed white people never move out of your way?’ The politics of the pavement” by Haja Marie Kanu | FIRST PERSONGAL-DEM | 20th August 2019

Text of piece:

You notice
a silent game we play
Then     a
straightforward question

Jim Crow

‘holding             space’ on the pavement
not everybody would do it.

but the (white) woman              is desperate to
knee me once                again
A third time                  Strike four.

But wait             this
the standard
rebellion against
seen as a threat

I           did
not have time to apologise.        to politely ask another (white)
woman to excuse

my right
to space
free                              Blackness
            never intended to fit

I           do not
why                  I know why

No, I don’t
            Who knew         “colour”
would   push me            and ask me to move.

I           have to stand

Taylor Byas is a Black Chicago native currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio where she is a PhD student and Yates scholar at the University of Cincinnati, and an Assistant Features Editor for The Rumpus. She was the 1st place winner of both the Poetry Super Highway and the Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets Contests. Her work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, Glass, Iron Horse Literary Review, Hobart, Frontier Poetry, SWWIM, TriQuarterly, and others. She is represented by Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency.

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear TwinUnwieldy Creatures, their adult queer biracial retelling of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. They are the Fiction Co-Editor at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.


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