The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: My Name & Other Languages I am Learning how to Speak by Marissa Davis

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator H.V. Cramond, is from My Name & Other Languages I am Learning how to Speak by Jai-Alai Books in 2020. 

Grandmother Blacks Out Her Yearbook Photos with Sharpie

Black as I am, Black as I am:
why it did not matter, the marker
on the photographs. She said.
She is so ugly anyway. She said. Her streaked square
severs smiling columns. She has caged herself
in shadow on the high-gloss page. Suicide
of memory: scrawl of black on eye, cheek, nose, lip
straining to grin. Pores bloated with ink.
Her scribbled expulsion. Exodus

of one. One portrait. One erasure.
One-inch-by-one-inch blackout.
One woman, exiled
into her own history.
Sixty years in the desert
& counting.

Photo by Caitlin Vazquez

Marissa Davis is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Great River Review, Southeast Review, Rattle, West Branch, Mississippi Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Best New Poets, among others. Her translations are published or forthcoming in Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Mid-American Review, The Common, Rhino, American Chordata, and The Offing. Her chapbook, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020) was selected by Danez Smith for Cave Canem’s 2019 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Prize, and she was the runner-up of Narrative Magazine‘s 2021 30 Below contest. Davis holds an MFA from New York University.

H.V. Cramond holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the founding Poetry Editor of Requited Journal for 10 years. In 2018, she helped pass the Survivor’s Bill of Rights as the Illinois organizer for Rise. Recent work can be found in Soundless Poetry, Ignavia, death hums, Crack the Spine, BlazeVOX, Menacing Hedge, Adanna, So to Speak, Thank You for Swallowing, Dusie, Masque & Spectacle, Matter, and at


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