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woke up no light: poems

A poignant and rousing debut book of poetry from the former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, CA—the acclaimed, best-selling author of the novel Nightcrawling Leila Mottley follows her trailblazing first novel with a perfectly pitched first collection of poems that demonstrate her spark and scope. woke up no light reckons with themes of reparations, restitution, and desire. Moving in sections from “girlhood” to “neighborhood” to “falsehood” to, finally, “womanhood,” these poems are the breathing life of a Black girl as she grows into adulthood, simultaneously youthful and profound. Each poem is a searing vignette, capturing the dissonance of Black girlhood through visceral language. The collection is sharp and raw, wise and rhythmic, a combination that lights up each page. From unearthing histories to searching for ways to dream of a future in a world constantly on the brink of disaster, Mottley sets forth personal and political revelation with piercing detail. woke up no light confirms Leila Mottley’s arrival and demonstrates the enduring power of her voice—brave and distinctive and thoroughly her own.

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