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Meet the Featured Poet: Tanya Cunningham

30 April 2016 | admin | Featured Poets

Tanya Cunningham will be performing as one of the featured poets at the Little River Poetry Festival!

Tanya Cunningham is a prolific poet specializing in narratives and manipulation of repetition. Born and raised in Williamsburg, VA, the history of her homeland and family shines brightly in her work. Cunningham recently released her first book of poetry, Pachamama and Scientific Eve. She’s currently working as the Editorial Coordinator for the Hampton Roads Poetic Collective.

From the archives…

Mammy

Woman,
hips and shoulders.
Woman,
breast of pillows and the teats of a nation
suckled, cuddled, coddled in infancy.
Not the Nanny of undisclosed Soviet origin
faded to blonde.
Ukranian, Slavakian.
Not the Au Pair of Frenchman’s daydreams,
woman-child painting water colors
conjugating manger over tea and cakes.
Woman.
Mimie.
Mammy.
Maimmy.
Invisibly making me more than my men,
leaving you unafraid.
Hips and shoulders,
Woman.
Breasts of pillows and the teats of a nation,
praying there’s enough for hers and yours.
Switching sides every 10 minutes
before the world of pumps and bottles,
hot water compress stimulating glands,
hoping all of her children can be brothers.
Woman.
Low-country woman,
Santee, SC brown.
67 miles from the great-great grands,
praying to Gods instead of Magnolia trees.
Woman,
mis-stated myth of loyalty,
avoiding her daughter’s eyes
because the baby’s are green
and, sometimes, strong arms offer no protection.
Let offspring evolve into Sally’s
and good soil to become blood-stained.
Woman,
eyes downcast, feet a’shufflin’,
because it’s hard to look up
and watch every step.
Woman,
“Yous was mines, once, boy. But I’se couldn’t keep ya long. Born wit too many teeth. Devil’s chile.”
Woman,
“Theys wondered why yous so skinny.”
Woman.
And the head scarf wasn’t for you.
It was for her.
Wisdom has a way of climbing mountains of kinks,
slipping out of minds and scalps,
displaying itself where it mustn’t.
Better to let it stain the front of house dresses
and baby bibs.

 

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The Little River Poetry Festival is a retreat for poets to enjoy the beauty and scenery of Floyd, Virginia for a weekend in June.

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