Born in Trinidad and raised in New York City since the age of 13, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor has been writing poetry since her son Malik was born. As a young wife and mother, it was often difficult to discuss the hardships of her new role as parent with her family. The world was in the throes of the black power movement, the women’s movement, and the war in Vietnam. Such a different world, from her carnival and coconut-water Trinidad. Even though her son was an infant, she worried about the life he would have as a black man in racially divided America. After hearing Nikki Giovanni read, Boyce-Taylor began writing poetry to make sense of her life, and this new world she was attempting to shape for her young son. In “Poems of Glass and Bone,” a poem dedicated to Audre Lorde, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor asks, “who is this girl writing notes to the hard earth?”
Boyce-Taylor’s work has taken her around the world, to Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She has performed at some of New York City’s hottest venues, such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, Aaron Davis Hall, The Bowery Poetry Club, Lincoln Center, and this past summer she opened at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park for Shadow, one of Trinidad’s most talented Calypsonians.
In 1994, Boyce-Taylor was the first Caribbean woman to present her work in Trinidadian dialect at the National Poetry Slam. Along with her New York team, they won third place. She has toured the country as a road poet with Lollapolooza, and recently performed for Mamapolooza in New York City. Her works include two collections of poetry, Raw Air, and Night When Moon Follows. When asked to name three things that best describe her work, she smiles her little girl mischievous grin, and says… “A Mack truck, a kiss and an open road…”
“Convincing the Body is not where poetry is headed, it is where poetry IS,” says Patricia Smith of Cheryl Boyce-Taylor’s third book of poetry. Lush, edgy, sparse and elegant, these poems are not merely written, but lived. Divided into six movements, this work unflinchingly addresses injustice, war, sex, love, and hope. There is nothing random or predictable here. “Redemption shines like light through pinholes. This collection revels in the language of promise, the poems are ways of understanding our times and our lives,” says Bill Fogarty. Boyce-Taylor stakes her pen in the vein and calls us out. “She don’t tek no mess,” [...]
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