Out of No Way by @rojeaugustin

Author, producer, and emerging poet Roje Augustin has written a ground-breaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A’Lelia. Roje’s singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms – from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America.


Seventy cents.

Seventy cents will suffice.

Mister B— will pay

you seventy cents to clean the chamber pots and gather the body and bed linens.



(R. R. Bowker, 8 May 2020, 160 pages, ebook, copy from @PoeticBookTours, #BlogTour 24 September via @PoeticBookTours)




I’d never heard to Madam C.J. Walker before I decided to read this. The concept sounded like something I’d really enjoy. Apparently, she was the first self-made millionaire who made her fortune making hair products for black women. An impressive feat for a black woman during the time period when she was alive. She lived during the Jim Crow laws. This collection contains poetry in different styles. Some of the poems are in a traditional format and structure. Other poems take the form of found poetry made by blacking out words in adverts and propaganda and the words left behind become a poem. The book also contains some iconic photos of C.J Walker’s life and achievements. The poetry is not about inventing hair products, though these feature sparsely but about racism, Jim Crow laws, being a woman, feminism, family and love. This is a powerful piece of writing.


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