Additional information

Weight4.2 oz
Dimensions8.5 × 5.25 × .25 in
Book Details

Perfect bound paperback
82 pages
Published in summer 2018

Lilith, but Dark by Nichole Perkins


Lilith, but Dark reveals a series of confessions and penances, exploring a southern black woman’s tour through lover’s lament. It explores intimacies from home to the schoolyard to the bedroom. It is a journey through tornado alley, a search for power and peace in the eye of a southern storm.

“‘There is a woman here, heady and blooming’ reads the last line of the last poem in this astonishing collection. And there is a woman here, heady and blooming in each of these infinitely resonant poems. With poise and precision, Nichole Perkins lays bare a black woman’s life, her love, her loss—how she has come apart and pulled herself back together, how she has wanted and been wanting. There is so much beautiful writing to be found in these pages, such a fine attention to detail, such a seductive way of imbuing each line and verse with intimacy and wisdom, so that we always understand how time and place have shaped the poet and the unforgettable way she renders this world.” —Roxane Gay, author of Difficult Women

Review at Barrelhouse

“Kim Addonizio writes, ‘All poems are seductions,’ and I couldn’t agree more, because I’m spellbound by this collection from Nichole Perkins. The voice is lush and all Nashville, teeming with lightning bugs and lip gloss, tornadoes, family bonds that bind and break us, childhood crushes and cruelties, curvy bodies, and desirous bodies that destroy and are destroyed by lovers. Here, colors are vibrant with ‘pussy pinks and rent-paying reds.’ Lips kiss scars, and at the seam of every poem is a deep longing and a refusal, a reaching after the hard mythologies that try to define us, but never do. Lilith, but Dark glows in the night.”

—Tiana Clark, author of Equilibrium

“’They say my people/ collectively fear water,’ suggests our drowning risk and love hungry speaker in ‘Underwater.’ And yet Nichole Perkins’ Lilith But Dark is a reservoir of poems defined by ‘a blue that never stops’ and ‘a blue I never wanted.’ Despite whatever fear, Perkins floats us deep into this southern basin and its deposits of family violence, boys and babies lost too young, skin scarred by eros or its lack. But these are not studies in brokenness. Rather they are poems rich with the complications and conundrums and power of one modern blk womanhood, agile- and able-voiced. For all we know, the storied Lilith (in all her unwillingness to supplicate before Adam) may have been dark. But if you could not consider, could not hear, such a notion before reading this collection, you will see it vividly as Perkins refuses to lift the weight of her verses from your breast, where they ‘press a symphony from you.’”
—Kyle Dargan, Cave Canem Prize winner & author of Anagnorisis: Poems

“In Lilith, But Dark, we find a woman ‘born armored against…loss,’ who, over the course of the collection, lowers her shield, lets it hang “too loosely.” Perkins deftly navigates the risks that come with lowering one’s protections, of seeing and be seen, with grace and generosity. In the world of the collection— a Southern space, a vulnerable place— her speaker rises, a woman marked by desire, by envy, by family, by love.”

—Donika Kelly, author of Bestiary

“Nichole Perkins is a myth maker, and the poems in Lilith, but Dark swirl with the urge to divine animals from the clouds and constellations from freckles. In this book, everything is a story, a caravan of history, woven together with the smallest, most exquisite observations. These poems make myths from the crayon haze of childhood, familial and romantic relationships, antiquity, and everything in between. I love that the work acknowledges the construction inherent in recollection, that ‘Fictions teach us our grief should bruise the sky,’ while still letting us get lost in the lyrics. These poems are a communion, and I am so delighted with the new animals and constellations Nichole has given us.”

—Tommy Pico, author of IRL