Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity

Book Pages: 184 Illustrations: Published: October 2016

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry

In Spill, self-described queer Black troublemaker and Black feminist love evangelist Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism. In this poetic work inspired by Hortense Spillers, Gumbs offers an alternative approach to Black feminist literary criticism, historiography, and the interactive practice of relating to the words of Black feminist thinkers. Gumbs not only speaks to the spiritual, bodily, and otherworldly experience of Black women but also allows readers to imagine new possibilities for poetry as a portal for understanding and deepening feminist theory.


"Gumbs’s writing has luscious urgency and rhythmic drive, which will make it of interest beyond its titular audience." — Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

"Spill is not just a poetic collection where art meets criticism or where art is criticism. Instead, it is an intricately woven, polyvocal, ever-expansive map that details and gives rise to new and old black feminisms instructing us how to live and move with(in) these proliferating epistemologies." — Sasha Panaram, New Black Man (In Exile)

"Spill offers the kind of meditative history that lends itself to underlining passages, lines, entire pages. The skillful blend of academic theory and personal introspection results in a luxuriously blended narrative that proves essential to honoring the legacies of queer black women." — Allison McCarthy, Role Reboot

"The experimental nature of the book offers a new perspective on a diasporic history of black women in the U.S. and addresses fugitivity on a global scale. Gumbs creates a dialogue between herself and Spillers and simultaneously envisions new opportunities of relating Spillers to other black feminist thinkers. In doing so she imagines new forms of poetry and critical essay writing and opens up an alternative to conventional literary practices." — Lea Hülsen, KULT

"Inspired by the work of black feminist intellectual Hortense Spillers, Gumbs’ collection of poems appear as a series of powerful scenarios. Reading the volume is akin to being a member of a theatre audience. The fourth wall is peeled away and one is suddenly witness to heartbreaking, inspiring and insightful scenes depicting fugitive black women and girls – unsung and celebrated 'sheroes' – seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism."
  — Thomasi McDonald, News & Observer

"Spill is poetry that invites the reader to imagine these poems weren't written- they was lived, they were felt, and in some deep sense, re-membered. In other words, this book happened in somebody's body, a body committed to Black Feminist ways of knowing and feeling in the world.... By embracing and applying these through the form of the parable, Spill speaks to the radical, spiritual power that belongs to those 'black women who made and broke narrative.'" — Lara Mimosa Montes, Poetry Project Review

"Gumbs’s poetry takes up the detritus of the everyday that surrounds theory — the affective social and political worlds in which black feminist theorists write — and bends it, splits it, like a prism breaking a beam of light into a rainbow." — Maria Velazquez, Cascadia Subduction Zone

"Gumbs seamlessly moves between historic reference, inherited memories, and a series of visions or a journal of dreams-the result is bigger than text itself. Her writing blurs the lines between past, present, and future. The book communes with ancestral knowledge while offering conjectures of what could be, reminding us that Black women have always seen what comes next, past the edges of what seemed or seems possible.... Spill is first and foremost a love offering to all Black women, but all readers who bear witness will leave its pages knowing of radical imagined possibilities and the difficult path laid before us toward elsewhere: 'our work here is not done.'" — Zaina Alsous, Bitch

"This book is a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism. Like Audre Lorde, Gumbs writes for the complexity of her vision." — Jaki Shelton Green, NBC News (NBCBlk)

"Blending my love of Black queer feminist authors with genre bending and analytically complex poetry, Gumbs’s work inflicted pleasantly unfamiliar feelings upon me that I cannot 'claim to have invented.' Spill transformed me from a reluctant bystander of theory and poetry into a willing and enthused participant…. Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Spill is an offering for all seeking an unpredictable and experimental journey of Black feminist artistic expression and self-discovery." — Eden Sena Kokui Segbefia, Scalawag

"Gumbs not only speaks to the spiritual, bodily and otherworldly experience of black women, she allows readers to imagine new possibilities for poetry as a portal for understanding and deepening feminist theory." — Triangle Tribune

"At a moment when the clamoring academic response to #BlackLivesMatter sometimes threatens to abstract representations of it away from black lived experience, Gumbs returns to [Hortense] Spillers’ work to craft a narrative, episodic poem about a woman finding her way out of a home where she does not belong." — Rachel Stonecipher, Feminist Theory

"This book is alive. The more I read it, the more gingerly I found myself handling its pages, despite the strength and determination of the women depicted within. . . . The scenes read as half song, half sermon (though intimately pitched), and taken as a whole create a richly textured chorus through which an exhilarating and deeply intelligent life force surges." — Kim Adrian, The Rumpus

"[G]round-breaking. . . . Gumbs’s trilogy embraces the lyric beauty in the acts of naming, remembering, and finding one’s way back to the source. . . . Reading Gumbs’s books feels like reading an archive that will someday, who knows maybe even someday soon, usher in an era of radical transformation." — Kathryn Nuernberger, West Branch

"In this luminous, heartbreaking work, Alexis Pauline Gumbs highlights the art of Black feminist theorizing, showing us how Black feminism lives in the hair and legs and wombs and choices of individual Black women." — Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley, author of Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature

"With Spill, Alexis Pauline Gumbs pushes the boundaries of art making and scholarship, doing so with rigor, sure-footed conviction, and an open heart." — Samiya Bashir


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Price: $22.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, independent scholar, and activist. She is coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines and the Founder and Director of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, an educational program based in Durham, North Carolina.

Table of Contents Back to Top
A Note  xi
How She Knew  1
How She Spelled It  17
How She Left  31
How She Survived until Then  45
What She Did Not Say  61
What He Was Thinking  75
Where She Ended Up  91
The Witnesses the Wayward the Waiting  111
How We Know  125
The Way  141
Acknowledgments  151
Notes  153
Bibliography  161
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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