Hassan in these poems has created a decorum of her own. She demonstrates the possibilities that come with a new way of seeing, one that does not settle for well-worn tropes. In doing this, she is emblematic of a new generation of African poets taht happily draw on a complex of different traditions that have shaped their sense of self.”Matthew Shenoda, from the preface
A Catalog of Praise
Praise the coffeeshop one block up from the crib
and praise the black barista in purple with a newborn
and up at seven making white folks coffee.
Praise her sister’s bald head shining and liner
cut crisper than a mug
and praise the laugh skipping like a record
and the mug chipped
from the weak shelf of the start-up
that stole my two good years and praise
the two good years however they found me
sweet or unsweet.
And praise my daddy for calling me sweetness
and praise my daddy for pilfering sugar
and praise my daddy for refusing silence and praise my daddy
for edging my mother towards a gentle hello and good
on her for trusting I would return to the table and rise
from the bed—praise the bed, and these days, the table
set with tea and the one succulent I almost killed
leaning long-tongued towards me and not the sun.
And praise the viridescent and decaying
heavy. Praise the air between these lungs
and the funk between these pits.
Praise my name, Ya Allah,
praise my lips, hips, and eye sockets
for beholding another day.
Praise the days for keeping on coming.
Praise the good earth and the night terrors
and the wonders of a small cup of coffee and one