Kelvin Kellman’s Black Woman

Every now and then an author reaches out to the Quarterly and asks that we share their work on our website. While it’s impossible to share every author’s work, this almost always nudges me back to look at an author’s contribution again.

Last week, Kelvin Kellman reached out about his poem “Black Woman,” which prompted me to re-read it. It’s pretty great and to help the author share his work more broadly (especially as an African writer it’s just a bit trickier for him to get copies of the Quarterly into his readers’ hands!), here is his poem. It originally appears in 87.3/4.

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.  


Black Woman

She enchants from every scope of sight like a moving
portrait of heaven. Semblance bright as the gay clouds
in dry season—a countenance of lush poesy straddling
earth and the divine; a cosmic symphony manifest as man.

Clad in ebon gloss luster, tanned as the brilliance of
midnight skies. Black, brown, bronze; shimmering
shadow gold in open wild, gloried in all shades of dusk.
I shudder, awed by the canorous song of her hue.

She’s Naomi Campbell, she’s Alek Wek, she’s Agbani
Darego—luminary melanin deities of beatific grace.

In her biology is registered the destiny of nations, and
her skin antidote to toxic light. No stranger to squalls
nor naïve to customs of scorn, her ivory-glazed smile is
testament to many silences, patching fissured dreams.

Resplendent in her coal, she stretches limits between haze
and clarity, between stone and butter. A vessel of darling
notions—and post sunset, when all is graveyard still, then
trails the mutual cue, and choral groans into midnight airs.


Kelvin Kellman writes from Lagos-Ibadan, Nigeria. He’s had works featured or forthcoming in Green Briar Review, The Blue Mountain Review, Hawaii Review, Solstice, and elsewhere.

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