All the Blood Involved in Love is an urgent and evocative collection—featuring complex and compelling poems about the choices we make surrounding home, freedom, healing, partnership, and family.
In a moment of critical struggle for reproductive justice, Maya Marshall’s haunting debut meditates on womanhood—with and without motherhood. Traversing familial mythography with an unflinching seriousness, Marshall moves deftly between contemporary politics, the stakes of race and interracial partnership, and the monetary, mental, and physical costs of adopting or birthing a Black child.
“Confounded, mesmerized and enraged, women gaze long at their mothers. They rejoice and recoil at the possibility of sons and the sudden inevitable disappearing of sons. Craving just one unconquered root, they collect and shed lovers, some who are quivering mirrors, some edges that might be blades. Fathers boom tenet from every crevice. Never quite pinpointing the source of pain, women clutch tight their own bodies to hold in the hurricane. This work—penned as backslap for the black woman intending to stomp into, through and beyond the existence she is laughingly "allowed"—harbors the hurricane's unrepentant muscle. Enter and risk. Enter and live.”
—Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art
“All the Blood Involved in Love is at once the most Southern, most feminist, and Blackest book I have ever read. Maya Marshall witnesses the way we used that word in the old church, through a language so polished and exact that we feel cleansed by it as readers. This is a beautiful debut from a game-changing poet.”
—Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition
“All the Blood Involved in Love is a lyrical work of psychological and temporal complexity gripped by questions of freedom, trauma, desire, imagination, and possibilities of Black girlhood and womanhood in the U.S. It is at once sensuous and terrifying, taut and lush, as in: ‘Do these trees know? / Do these trees know the grazing hem, the line / between sweet heat and deep sweat? // The woman(’s) sex. Her hanging. They must. / Her hair is made of them.’ I'm saying, this stunningly shiftful, strange, and exact book interrogates the histories with which our blood and time are written. It insists that there is power in such scrutiny. I'm saying, her Eye's on this: ‘To save my life, I undress this disarray.’”
—Aracelis Girmay, author of the black maria
“Maya Marshall’s All the Blood Involved in Love sounds the breadth and depth of embodied Black womanhood. This poet holds her pen to the fire and writes in flame, lines that are passionate, yet brutally precise. Black women move through the poems in relation to their various families—biological, chosen, longed for, remembered, imagined, or barely escaped. Hear me: Marshall’s poetry collects and confronts some of our knottiest questions, our hardest truths. But it also illuminates the connections that buoy and strengthen us, the knowing that enables us to thrive.”
—Evie Shockley, author of semiautomatic
“Intimate and understated in unflinching private, public mourning, All the Blood Involved in Love courses with an undeniable steady intensity throbbing at its tender jugular. Delivered with unnerving focus— almost unbearable—declarative observations, we don’t just read Maya Marshall’s poems, we breathe with them, and bleed with them: Tenderness is the impulse to protect /what you know you could destroy. /This is the gift of my father’s neck. This is a harrowing and illuminating book surging with intelligence and pulsing with new music. Maya Marshall writes with life force.”
—Robyn Schiff, author of Revolver