This feature originally appeared in the June 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.
I've been an admirer of poet Camille T. Dungy for years, and was particularly moved by 2006's What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press). In it Dungy strips words down to the marrow, exposing scars, vulnerabilities, strength and courage. The Denver native takes a slight turn into a longer narrative space in her latest offering, which is an ode to maternal love and love for work. She details this fine balancing act in the exquisite Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood, and History (Norton).
It's amazing the wonderful gems you can discover in a book. As a longtime fan of legendary culinary writer Jessica B. Harris, I thought I was well-informed on everything about this award-winning scholar. Who knew that Ms. Harris worked at ESSENCE early in her career? That nugget and more await readers of the eloquent and infinitely delightful My Soul Looks Back (Scribner), her memoir.
Long before there was a real first Black Bachelorette, Samantha Irby had been entertaining readers of her popular blog with the reasons she should have gotten that role. Those and other musings fill out her deliriously funny new collection, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (Vintage). Irby's crackerjack writing will remind you of the sweetest, tangiest and salty Now and Later candy, with plenty of food for thought.
Whatever happens between you and your doctor is no one else's business. It's still baffling that so many people will jump in someone's grill about personal medical decisions one has to make. That message is delivered superbly in physician Willie Parker's timely volume, Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice (37 Ink/ Atria).
Like many of you, I first discovered Liza Jessie Peterson through 13th, Ava DuVernay's soaring Netflix documentary. I was even more compelled by Peterson after reading All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island (Center Street). The author provides a refreshing view of young people who are too often judged and labeled.