Lucy Negro, Redux


Part Savvy Lit Crit, part Blues chart, part hip revenge-femme-lyric, part imagined Interracial Romance Saga disguised as poems, In Lucy Negro, Redux Caroline Randall Williams plays the literary Race Card and cuts the whole deck, moving backwards in time in and forward in mind, archaeologically offering a precise and seductive command performance of the hidden temperament of a specific and beautiful “Dark Lady”––both used and loved. Williams unearths Lucy by working her own mojo of intelligent vengeance and a dual aesthetic of inquiry and minimal, tour de force exegesis. Travel with Williams through the sublime racial moments of famous sonnets to a cultural critique of the work of Mr. Whiteness Him Bad Bard Self, William Shakespeare. Lucy as radical muse. Lucy as newly-freed verse news. Move over Othello, no more easy getting’ ovah, Lucy Negro aka Black Luce has, double-brilliantly and double inventively, fully arrived on fire!

Thomas Sayers Ellis (Co-Founder–Dark Room Collective, Author, Skin, Inc)



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.


“This is a vital book, at once capable of searing insight and complex emotion. The poems speak to our time while giving voice to a ghost.”

-Erica Wright, Chapter16

About the Author

author photoCaroline Randall Williams earned her MFA at the University of Mississippi. A 2010 Harvard graduate, she spent two years teaching public schools in the Mississippi delta as a corps member with Teach for America, during which time she co-authored a young adult novel, The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess with her mother, Alice Randall. The mother-daughter duo has a second book, Soul Food Love, a collection of memories and healthy soul food recipes. Lucy Negro, Redux is her first collection of poetry.



{For I have sworn thee fair}


And this,

the morning of our quiet places,

it has a with-ness

in it.

And he the mirror

I wrap my hair in,

his face the mirror I wrap my hair in,

and the with-ness,

and this is

the good skin,

For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright

this the sin

we sweat our skins for—

Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


{Then I will declare that Beauty herself is black}


Say she wild, that she live by it,

that she like it,

like that money, like that witness,

like that grotesque, and his yes, yes

and she dazzle him, when she monkey shine,

‘causa how she know that he know

his people ‘shamed

of how he go

for them darker juices, her darkness using

him up

like ain’t nobody watching.

Always somebody watching you.

Even if ain’t nobody down here watching you,

God is.


88 pages
ISBN: 978-09861370-1-3
June 1st, 2015