Book Review: A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill

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A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry, History
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Source: Library
Dates Read: April 5-6, 2019
Grade: A
Synopsis: From Harriet Tubman to Assata Shakur, Ida B. Wells to Sandra Bland and Black Lives Matter, black women freedom fighters have braved violence, scorn, despair, and isolation in order to lodge their protests. In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, DaMaris Hill honors their experiences with at times harrowing, at times hopeful responses to her heroes, illustrated with black-and-white photographs throughout.

For black American women, the experience of being bound has taken many forms: from the bondage of slavery to the Reconstruction-era criminalization of women; from the brutal constraints of Jim Crow to our own era’s prison industrial complex, where between 1980 and 2014, the number of incarcerated women increased by 700%.* For those women who lived and died resisting the dehumanization of confinement–physical, social, intellectual–the threat of being bound was real, constant, and lethal.

In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, Hill presents bitter, unflinching history that artfully captures the personas of these captivating, bound yet unbridled African-American women. Hill’s passionate odes to Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, and others also celebrate the modern-day inheritors of their load and light, binding history, author, and reader in an essential legacy of struggle. (from Goodreads)

REVIEW

abwOkay, first off, DaMaris B. Hill has not one but TWO PhDs (in English & women and gender studies) and she was in the Air Force. Wow. And second, this book is phenomenal. I can’t say I like it, because its contents aren’t something to ‘like.’ It’s full of histories and personalities of real women I’d never heard of before — and that makes me angry. Every white person should be made to read this book. Since March 26 of this year, 3 historically black churches in Louisiana have been burned down within 10 days of each other. They’ve been called “suspicious,” but really they’re not suspicious at all. I know who did it. You know who did it. And why. We may not yet know the name(s), but we know what they look like.

Readability: 5/5

I love how Hill combines narrative and verse. In the book, she includes both a brief biography or character sketch of a woman and poems about that woman. I felt like I knew these women while reading about them. Since all of these women were either arrested or rebellious in some way, not all of these women were/are squeaky-clean and virtuous. There are murderers in here, sometimes out of self-defense but other times out of spite. Most of the time, these women were wrongfully accused and suffered punishments they didn’t deserve. At the end, she even includes herself, which I think makes the work as a whole feel more powerful, because it connects us to the present.

Interest Value: 5/5

Hill is a phenomenal woman and a talented writer. She uses so many voices in this slim volume and gives them to those women who weren’t allowed to have a voice. I’m so glad I found this book, and I want everyone to read it.

Favorite Poems:

  • Ida Howard (45)
    • “What You Oughta Know About Ida” (47)
      • “Ida don’t tolerate no disrespect.”
  • “Black Bird Medley” (58-62)
    • “not a white woman, nor do i wither / in darkness, i bruise a blue rose / blooming between brick i quiver”
  • Sonia Sanchez (93)
    • “This Granny Is a Gangster” (95)
  • Assata Shakur (125)
    • “Revolution: Assata in 1956” (126-127)
      • “Revolution ain’t a date in a history book, / it’s an ivy that thorns, / a lily that pricks. It stings / like the splash of a copper-colored girl / ruining her Easter dress.”
  • “Gabriel Casts a Knuckle” (158-159)

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