"Grape is the sweetest betrayal. There is no removing the stain of it say moms everywhere & even if kids choose it last, they choose it, as loyal to its sugar as any."
When authorities converged on the Guyanese settlement of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project—founded by James "Jim" Jones and popularly known as Jonestown—on November 18, 1978, more than nine hundred members were found dead, the result of murder-suicide. The massacre was the largest mass loss of American lives before September 11, 2001. Although the events at Jonestown inspired a common idiom in "Don't drink the Kool-Aid," the personal histories of those who were lost have been treated as a footnote to the tragedy—little has been written about those individuals and their lived experiences.
In this profound and provocative poetry collection, darlene anita scott foregrounds that which has been disremembered and honors the people who perished at Jonestown. She amplifies the voices of the children, teenagers, and adults whose hopes, dreams, and lives were just as hopeful and mundane as any others yet have been overlooked and overshadowed by the circumstances of their untimely loss. The distinct, haunting, and unforgettable poems in Marrow cut to the bone while also acknowledging and giving tribute to the people who were lost on that fateful day.
SHELBY COUNTY ALABAMA THE INVITATION ROSTRUM BOOKISH GIRL SWEEPS THE SANCTUARY THE BLACK BOOK A REVOLUTIONARY LOVE STORY WATER WILD CHILD JUBILEE THE PEOPLES TEMPLE AGRICULTURAL PROJECT WISHING TREE FOR YONDER COMPOSTING MAKING SOAP DISAPPEARANCE THE RULES HOW TODAY WILL LOOK WHEN IT'S HISTORY I LEARN TO LOVE THE BODY SHE LOVES A TREE GETS IN THE WAY THE TWENTY-FIFTH CHRISTINE BUCKET BRIGADE HARVESTING HOW SLEEP FINDS US SOMETIMES MOLASSES GOVERNMENT NAME WHAT WE TALK ABOUT IN OUR COTTAGE WHEN SHANDA SAID NO THE SCENT OF HER GROOMING IN DEFENSE OF DEVOTION SPIT SHINE ALGEBRA MAKESHIFT DADDY FOR JUST PENNIES A GLASS [REDACTED] EARNS HIS WINGS IMAGINE, FIRST, A GIRL AS FOR DANCING AFTER THE GAME LOOKING THE CAMERA IN THE EYE WARREN FETUS HOUSE ON STILTS A MEDIC MISTAKES ME FOR DEAD SEPIA AFTER AN NBC INTERVIEW I MISSED YOU MORE MARROW —OIL DRUM NOTES ACKOWLEDGEMENTS
darlene anita scott is coeditor of Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era. Her poetry appeared most recently in Green Mountains Review,Pen + Brush, and Simple Machines, and her works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
Marrow is a re-membering that brings together a congregation of sensuous, desiring living beings who long for change in an antiblack world. darlene anita scott lifts them out of archives and memories, in a sense-rich open field documentary practice that invites her reader into a patch of stained-glass-colored sunshine, into 'rumored contagion.' In the sweat pouring down a neck, we enter into the burden and promise of relations to earth and to one another. scott witnesses desires for change and promise, the 'sorcery of lard & ash.' Materials of transformation abound and slip from abundance to danger: 'manage your tongue/like crushed glass.' In the aftermath of death, there is infiltration and influence: 'your skin a series of subtly shifting browns/secreted from the supposed black of ancestors to cotton/fields.' Marrow honors the dead and their lives, and delineates the contours of a lure away from a United States that still hasn't delivered on the promises of the civil rights era.
~Petra Kuppers, author of Gut Botany and professor at the University of Michigan
The amazing poems of darlene anita scott capture the essence of those who lived and died in Jonestown. scott uses diaries, photographs, letters, and tapes, along with her own prodigious imagination, to create stories, and worlds, that transcend the gory headlines. By humanizing the members of Peoples Temple, she reminds us of all that was lost on a single day in November 1978. scott's book of poetry is a landmark in the literature of Jonestown.
~Rebecca Moore, author of Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple and professor emerita of religious studies at San Diego State University
Innovative and compelling, Marrow animates the archival with sensual imagery and technical savvy. In these poems, history dances with imagination, bringing the world of Jonestown and its inhabitants back to tell their stories, piercing the shroud of that tragedy with so much lost light, and rendering the ordinary extraordinariness of these lives and deaths with precision and grace. scott delivers an insightful, informative, and inspirational debut collection.
~Lauren K. Alleyne, author of Honeyfish
Marrow gives flesh and bone to the ghosts of Jones's People's Temple, and puts the real and imagined story in this history. Readers join the Temple members—see, smell, hear, taste, and touch them—from the moment they arrive in Guyana until that fateful day when they leave. Though the poems are eloquently written, they still frighten and haunt. scott knows what she's doing and it shows in these interesting, smart poems that burrow into readers' psyche and soul.
~Adrienne Christian, author of Worn and A Proper Lover
'God is a chance we take,' writes darlene anita scott in this searing examination of the Jonestown Massacre as told through the lives of its most vulnerable victims: mid-twentieth-century African Americans. What they left, what they hoped for, and what they lost serve as the locus of poems that explore the limits of faith, love, and human suffering. Marrow is a remarkable debut, penned by a poet skilled in the art of interrogating belief.
~Destiny O. Birdsong, author of Negotiations
Marrow is a memory that is both faithful and fatal. The writing is stunning. In these intimate poems, the reader is invited to be a devoted witness to the Jonestown community. The book evokes the American consciousness of race relations and the lush lives of Black people who sought to live their American Dream in a religious context. The book skips across the map and sails the globe to settle on the mind. It is in these travels that the experiences of these people are honored and remembered.
~DaMaris B. Hill, author of A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing