Say Her Name: Poems to Empower

Say Her Name cover
Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott. Illustrated by Loveis Wise

by Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Loveis Wise
*Little, Brown 2020
96 pages

Age 12 and older

“Black girl / you are more than magic / you are a miracle …” (from “Black Girl Miracle”). A collection of poems centered around Black female experience explores themes of racism, violence, body image, misogyny, but also, so importantly, self-love, sisterhood, strength, and the miracle of survival. The majority of the poems are original works by Elliott, but four offerings Elliott refers to as “mentor poems” are from poets Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lord, and Phyllis Wheatley. Across the collection, poems call out individual Black women and their achievements, as well as individual Black women whose lives were cut short at the hands of police or were victims of other racist oppression. She also addresses disrespect Black women have faced by some Black men in this accounting. “This book is my way of bearing witness,” she writes in the introduction, referring to unconscionable police violence. But in this volume that is so much more than pain, she also bears witness to that miracle of survival, even as she makes clear Black women and girls should not require miracles to survive, and thrive. Notes at book’s end provide additional information about each poem, including people and events referenced and aspects of their remarkable crafting in a work also graced by spot and full-page illustrations by Loveis Wise. (*The book was published in 2020 by Jump at the Sun, a Disney imprint; it has since been purchased by Hachette and the book is now a Little, Brown publication.) ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center