“Camonghne Felix is a brilliant writer, thinker, imaginer, builder—a young leader who shifts and opens the possibilities for a more just, better lit world, with each step, each word, each question.” —Kathy Engel
This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains.
Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.
Camonghne Felix is a poet, political strategist, media junkie, and cultural worker. She received an MA in arts politics from NYU, an MFA from Bard College, and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and Poets House. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of the chapbook Yolk and was listed by Black Youth Project as a “Black Girl from the Future You Should Know.”
“With Build Yourself a Boat, Camonghne Felix heralds a thrillingly new form of storytelling, as much investigation as it is song, as broken as it is doused in genuine strength. These poems are packed with embodiments—not depictions—of Black female pain, empowerment, memory, and discovery. This is a fantastically tender book, generous in its precision and thoughtful in its experimentation. This debut does not come quietly or shyly—Felix is an applaudable master of language, inventively carving and pulling at words and sounds to assemble the parts of this story. Here is a voice that commands, insists, reiterates, and consumes—a voice that has earned its right to shout freely, with curiosity and aliveness and heart.”
—Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro
“Every few seasons, we get a piece of art that sees us whole, that knows the smell of our hiding places, that will never let us hear it or ourselves the same again. Build Yourself a Boat is one of the most soulful, genius pieces of art that has ever seen, felt and heard me. I tried to run away from these poems. They welcomed, understood and side-eyed my fear. I look forward to bringing this book into all my classes, my relationships and sacred rooms for the rest of my life. It's really that good.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“Camonghne Felix is a brilliant writer, thinker, imaginer, builder—a young leader who shifts and opens the possibilities for a more just, better lit world, with each step, each word, each question.”
“Where is the room for Black folks to be in their bodies? Framed here in this book, between a slip of ‘Weary’ and ‘DISCLAIMER,’ is a theory. [Felix’s] footnotes articulate spaces in which we might sink or swim, or skate. She declares, ‘you can’t un-see me,’ skewering American political nostalgia—liberal and conservative. As I type this, I right click and choose ‘Add to Dictionary’ in order to erase the red wave under her name that signifies a mistake to be addressed. I choose to include her in my lexicon ‘because we’re looking at a critical fault otherwise.’ Who else could possibly do this impossible work justice?”
—Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, author of Open Interval