Hush arbors were safe places in the deep woods where slaves could commune with each other to lift their choral voices to the heavens as they tarried for freedom. bell hooks comes from a people who deeply connected with this country’s “backwoods” and hills in Kentucky and decided to stead in these spaces. Tending and tilling the land that afforded them independence and the freedom to unmask in isolation. They were “renegades and rebels” who didn’t seek to civilize Kentucky’s wilds, instead developing a besidedness with the land that informs bell hooks sense of self and belonging. This collection of poems is a departure for the important polemicist, a place where she is able to roam her boundless imagination using her emotional intelligence as her primary compass. Praise songs for her ancestors sit beside her meditations on turtles. Here is a rare glance into the soul of our beloved excessively prolific yet impossibly private bell hooks, who took her mother’s surname as her nom de plume. Here she returns to her mother’s woods, to the “wilderness within”
——dream hampton, praise for bell hooks’ Appalachian Elegy, a new collection of poems.