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Perfect Black

Perfect Black

by Crystal Wilkinson

Foreword by Nikky Finney

Illustrated by Ronald W. Davis

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

106 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in, 36 illustrations

  • Paperback
  • 9780813151168
  • Published: August 2021


  • Hardcover
  • 9780813151151
  • Published: August 2021



Crystal Wilkinson combines her deep love for her country roots with her passion for language and storytelling to craft compelling lyrics and prose in this collection about Black girlhood, racism, and political awareness. Imbued with tenderness and insightful imagery of growing up in the south -- Royal Crown Hair Dressing pomade; the sweet, tangy, tartness of blackberry preserves; cold water pulled from a well; sautéed onions, garlic, fatback, and greens simmering in an iron skillet -- this work evokes ghosts and ancestors as companions and guides and demonstrates Wilkinson's full engagement with the land and the people she knows.

The fiction writer turned poet muses on such topics as the politics of her Black body, lost fathers, motherhood, mental illness, rape, and religion. It is a captivating conversation about life, love, loss, and pain, interwoven with striking illustrations by her longtime partner Ron Davis. Wilkinson avows, "Country is as much a part of me as my full lips, my wide hips, my dreadlocks, my high cheekbones. The way the words roll off my tongue is the voice of my people." And her intuitive voice exemplifies, in this electrifying collection, that Black is exquisite. Black is poignant. Black is profound. Black is resilient. Black, indeed, is perfect.