Cape Verdean Blues (Pitt Poetry Series) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Fascinating and complex in its language and tone, this collection speaks to Barbosa’s relationship woes, her identity as a black woman, and her Cape Verdean roots. A Bennington College graduate, Barbosa peppers her debut with odes to jazz, island life, and references to the traditional Cape Verdean song "Sodade." Check out her series of "Strology" poems for a sample. — Joe Michon-Huneau


 “These words feel like experiences. Some are personal, most are enlightening, but all connect. Connect on a higher Level. A spiritual level.”
—Kendrick Lamar, Grammy Award-winning artist, and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music

-- A Lit Hub Favorite Book of 2018 

The speaker in Cape Verdean Blues is an oracle walking down the street. Shauna Barbosa interrogates encounters and the weight of their space. Grounded in bodily experience and the phenomenology of femininity, this collection provides a sense of Cape Verdean identity. It uniquely captures the essence of “Sodade,” as it refers to the Cape Verdean American experience, and also the nostalgia and self-reflection one navigates through relationships lived, lost, and imagined. And its layers of unusual imagery and sound hold the reader in their grip.

About the Author

Shauna Barbosa’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Lenny Letter, Virginia Quarterly Review,the Awl, Colorado Review, No Tokens Journal,the Atlas Review, PANK, and others. She received her MFA from Bennington College.

Praise For…

"In her strong debut, Barbosa delves into how the nuances of identity are formed through intersecting struggles. She characterizes identity as mutable, flexible, and a means to keep the memories that shape a person. Writing of her Cape Verdean upbringing in Boston, Barbosa investigates what it means to be a woman of color and a cultural other: "While I study my aunt makes a few bucks with no English at the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square. She's sweeping like it's a Saturday morning in her Cape Verdean home." In Barbosa's poems, the act of remembering can spur self-reflection as well as a political epiphany. In "An Email Recovered from Trash," Barbosa contends with dating as a black woman: "Can you tell from my name, I'm still in search of a place to stay?" It seems that even when Barbosa wants to momentarily forget about otherness, the outside world serves as a constant reminder. Yet she finds an inner peace, writing 'My noise so liberating/ it asks to be no one.' For Barbosa, the memories that are a minefield can also become a haven; those aspects of identity that arise through conflict can serve as a source of exceptional strength. "
Publishers Weekly

"Equal measures heart and bravado, Barbosa captures a present moment in U.S. poetry."

Cape Verdean Blues sings its pleasures and its pains. Delighting in the possibilities of linguistic play and undeniable rhythm, Barbosa’s urgent and intoxicating poems honor the poet’s past even as they fashion and refashion a shifting, irreducibly complex, and irrepressible identity that slyly slips our hold.”
—Kathleen Graber, author of The Eternal City: poems

“These words feel like experiences. Some are personal, most are enlightening, but all connect. Connect on higher Level. A spiritual level.”
—Kendrick Lamar, Grammy Award-winning artist, and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music

“This is a book harried by the wraiths of American power and culture, a book of the splitting possibilities of self and of love gone ridiculous, of the terrible and ongoing orthodoxy of the internet, of the largesse and murder committed by the ocean and by the calendar itself. And Shauna Barbosa’s jet-pilot of a speaker stays calm in the cock-pit, radioing in the damage. ‘Quiet are the dead these days, yeah?’ she asks. But by the time you reach the end of Cape Verdean Blues, dear reader, the dead aren’t quiet any longer.”
—Joshua Bell

It was tough to pick a top book in 2018 but I’m going to have to go with Kendrick Lamar on this one and say Shauna Barbosa’s poetry collection, Cape Verdean Blues, topped my list. These poems make bodily experiences feel spiritual while also exploring the concerns of someone whose identity lives between two cultures. I’ve always been a fan of reflecting on those moments or people in life that come and go quickly but leave behind detailed traces of emotion. Barbosa extracts these delicate traces and places them within her words. The collection does what poetry is meant to do, move you.

–Melissa Ximena Golebiowski, Lit Hub national assigning editor

Product Details
ISBN: 9780822965213
ISBN-10: 0822965216
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: March 12th, 2018
Pages: 96
Language: English
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
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