A deeply wrought and joyful debut poetry collection from an exciting new voice
Looping exultantly through the overlapping experiences of girlhood, Blackness, sex, and personhood in America, award-winning essayist and poet Kendra Allen braids together personal narrative and cultural commentary, wrestling with the beauty and brutality to be found between mothers and daughters, young women and the world, Black bodies and white space, virginity and intrusion, prison and freedom, birth and death. Most of all, The Collection Plate explores both how we collect and erase the voices, lives, and innocence of underrepresented bodies—and behold their pleasure, pain, and possibility
Both formally exciting and a delight to read, The Collection Plate is a testament to Allen’s place as the voice of a generation—and a witness to how we come into being in the twenty-first century.
About the Author
Kendra Allen was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She is the recipient of the 2018 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction for her essay collection, When You Learn the Alphabet, awarded by Kiese Laymon. She has been featured on C-SPAN, interviewed for The Rumpus and in Poets & Writers, and her work has been taught by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds alongside that of Jamaica Kincaid and Eve Ewing, among other distinctions.
“The Collection Plate is as close as we can get to those looming Black spaces beyond and before language. A book shouldn't be able to do this but Kendra Allen is a conjurer as much as she is one of the most complete writers we have ever read.”
— Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and Long Division
“Kendra Allen's Collection Plate is formally and linguistically invigorating, intertwining and juxtaposing personal and cultural histories to take the reader on a vivid emotional exploration. Allen considers Black exploitation, water crises, white feminism, and the notion of equality, among other failures in and of America. . . . Allen is in command of Our Father's, and other deadly forces', presence in her narratives, which she often wields with searing humor. This is a valuable offering; Collection Plate brings to light the dismantling capacity of laughing in the face of power, while directly examining it with eyes fired open.”
— Emily Jungmin Yoon, author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species