Cover design by Adam Robinson

Lilith, but Dark

Nichole Perkins

At the start of the process, Nichole described the cover she had in mind. “I’m thinking of the poem the line ‘Lilith, but dark’ comes from,” she wrote, “which is ‘The Quest for Immortality.’ The poem is kind of a dreamscape that features this mythical Lilith dominating her lover, giving him immortality but not in the flattering way he hoped. Words that come to mind: smoky, moody, sharp, mischievous, lonely, powerful, sad, haunting, reverent. That was what I went with for here, using a water color painting and merging it with a photo of a New Zealand forest by Tobias Tullius. The cover hints at a dreamscape kept “between the flickering lids of sleep … pretty and blurred,” as the poem goes.

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“‘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


“‘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 resevoir 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 and author of Anagnorisis: Poems


More blurbs on the way! Nichole’s book will be available this spring.

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