In Lucy Negro, Redux, Caroline Randall Williams has unearthed a new folk hero, a harbinger of the suppressed Black feminine. The voice in these exceptional poems is an active subversion to deep-rooted, but still relevant, western misogyny. Lucy Negro is no one’s muse, side-piece, or hush thing; she is an ironic blues in a familiar Shakespearean tapestry. The rhythmic vernacular and authentic lexicon urges us to read these poems out loud: I break it if I bought it,/ I own it if I caught it,/ I spend it if I got it./
Is this a 16th century European or the reincarnation of Bessie Smith? She is both. Randall Williams reminds us that the past is created from the now moment. As much as Lucy is historical artifact, she is a voice we need right now. This is more than historical poetry that relays facts. This is an unapologetic Black sonnet/song. The author has successfully avoided that debut we tend to disown later in our writing careers; rather, Randall Williams has produced a manuscript that should be heard, sung, examined, then reexamined until Lucy comes crawling out our collective eyes, ears, throats and reticence.
-Derrick Harriell, Author of Cotton and Ropes
Caroline Randall Williams’ debut collection of poetry, Lucy Negro, Redux, is a fearless, mesmerizing accomplishment. Brilliant, sensual, and always powerful, Lucy Negro, Redux dares us (and all Others) to gaze directly at the complex silhouette of beauty shackled inside of Shakespeare’s famous ‘Dark Lady Sonnets’, and the playwright’s own shrouded avowal “…I will declare that Beauty herself is black”. Explicit in imagination and invention, Williams’ achievement in these pages examines the (mis)coded vernacular of desire and its relationship to blackness, in plain sight. Black Luce, no longer stranded and silenced in a colorless narrative, blazes and burns with agency in Williams’ symphonic odium of desire, race, and history. Williams writes, “Lucy, Lucy, even you’s God’s flesh.”/This world ain’t wanna see that yet.” As Williams’ (and Lucy’s) readers, we are asked to witness the piecing vision of this collection, which is astute in its nuanced gaze at the psyche of poetry as flesh. Dazzling in ambition, Lucy Negro, Redux draws back the bright skin of language to reveal a raw and original (Blk!) nerve.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Author of Mule and Pear, winner of the 2012 Black Caucus American Library Association’s Inaugural Poetry Award.