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Thick with Trouble

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Paperback
$20.00 US
| $27.99 CAN
On sale Feb 13, 2024 | 128 Pages | 978-0-14-313747-4
From National Book Award finalist Amber McBride, a mystical, transcendent poetry collection about Black womanhood in the American South

In Thick with Trouble, award-winning poet Amber McBride interrogates if being “trouble”—difficult, unruly, fearsome, defiant—is ultimately a weakness or an incomparable source of strength. Steeped in the Hoodoo spiritual tradition and organized via reimagined tarot cards, this collection becomes a chorus of unapologetic women who laugh, cry, mesmerize, and bring outsiders to their knees. Summoning the supernatural to examine death, rebirth, and life outside the male gaze, Amber McBride has crafted a haunting, spellbinding, and strikingly original collection of poems that reckon with the force and complexity of Black womanhood.
Advance praise for Thick with Trouble:

"Reading this collection… is to enter a world full of beauty... McBride’s collection, lyrical and lilting, has an ancestral quality of timelessness, which demands reflection upon the reader’s connection to nature and their past."  —The Boston Globe

“Laced with magic and mystery . . . McBride provides readers with a fresh take on America’s violence-laden past and present and a chorus of unapologetic women who summon their ancestors, their self-determination, and their histories to create empowerment and existence on their own terms.” —The Southern Review of Books

“Amber McBride treats us to a playful litany of language that twists and leaps and never stumbles. Flavored with old-time Christianity, old-time hoodoo, and a modern alchemy all her own, it talks back to prejudice, reclaims the words meant to take people down, and forges new identities that shimmer with strength and strangeness.” —Poetry Unbound

“This collection of more than 50 poems is beautiful, sonorous, and song-like, even as the poems talk back and raise their voices.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“[McBride spins] a beautiful web of interconnected pieces relating to her identity as a Black woman in the modern era... The collection shines through its brutally unapologetic nature; it is both vivid and powerful… 'Thick with Trouble' gracefully toes the line between the incomprehensible and the quotidian, creating a beautiful and intriguing poetry collection.” —The Harvard Crimson

“[A] vibrant exploration of growing up as a Black woman in the American South . . . Visions, ghosts, hauntings, ruminations on the untimely deaths of young Black people are all examined through succinct yet no less devastating pieces. The coming of age poems are standouts, presenting the expectations for women from a young age . . . McBride is gifted at wordplay . . . a striking and powerful debut.” —Booklist

"This is a collection that finds comfort in the uncomfortable, solace in the irreconcilable. McBride adds a distinctly original and poignant voice to the conversation around intersectionality and misogynoir… McBride creates an imaginative yet forceful argument that celebrates Black femininity without apology or concession.” —The Poetry Question

“Reading Thick With Trouble by Amber McBride is the hoodoo holler handbook to counteract what ills us in this bleeding ‘house that drips’ called America. Here, freedom fights fluidly against spiritual and physical oppositions where ‘a ghost can't write a ghost story,’ but a Black woman can ‘gospel us into folklore.’ I stand in awe before this offering of dark principles, divinations at the blade edge of an enjambment, and dire metamorphoses. ‘Prayer rubs soft, gives way to clouds— /skulls crack and crack,’ she writes, and I believe in the prophet of this forecast. So should you.” —Phillip B. Williams, author of Mutiny

Thick with Trouble is a collection that sings like a chorus, an evocative and ancient kind of singing, incantatory and empowered. With poetic forms that challenge and surprise, Thick with Trouble is a knowing debut that subverts perceptions with lyricism, and calls upon the supernatural and ancestral to complicate and enlighten our collective gaze.” —Rio Cortez, author of Golden Ax
© Amber McBride
Amber McBride is the author of Me (Moth), a young adult novel that was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and won the 2022 Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Her work has been published in Ploughshares and Provincetown Arts, among other publications. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia. View titles by Amber McBride

About

From National Book Award finalist Amber McBride, a mystical, transcendent poetry collection about Black womanhood in the American South

In Thick with Trouble, award-winning poet Amber McBride interrogates if being “trouble”—difficult, unruly, fearsome, defiant—is ultimately a weakness or an incomparable source of strength. Steeped in the Hoodoo spiritual tradition and organized via reimagined tarot cards, this collection becomes a chorus of unapologetic women who laugh, cry, mesmerize, and bring outsiders to their knees. Summoning the supernatural to examine death, rebirth, and life outside the male gaze, Amber McBride has crafted a haunting, spellbinding, and strikingly original collection of poems that reckon with the force and complexity of Black womanhood.

Reviews

Advance praise for Thick with Trouble:

"Reading this collection… is to enter a world full of beauty... McBride’s collection, lyrical and lilting, has an ancestral quality of timelessness, which demands reflection upon the reader’s connection to nature and their past."  —The Boston Globe

“Laced with magic and mystery . . . McBride provides readers with a fresh take on America’s violence-laden past and present and a chorus of unapologetic women who summon their ancestors, their self-determination, and their histories to create empowerment and existence on their own terms.” —The Southern Review of Books

“Amber McBride treats us to a playful litany of language that twists and leaps and never stumbles. Flavored with old-time Christianity, old-time hoodoo, and a modern alchemy all her own, it talks back to prejudice, reclaims the words meant to take people down, and forges new identities that shimmer with strength and strangeness.” —Poetry Unbound

“This collection of more than 50 poems is beautiful, sonorous, and song-like, even as the poems talk back and raise their voices.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“[McBride spins] a beautiful web of interconnected pieces relating to her identity as a Black woman in the modern era... The collection shines through its brutally unapologetic nature; it is both vivid and powerful… 'Thick with Trouble' gracefully toes the line between the incomprehensible and the quotidian, creating a beautiful and intriguing poetry collection.” —The Harvard Crimson

“[A] vibrant exploration of growing up as a Black woman in the American South . . . Visions, ghosts, hauntings, ruminations on the untimely deaths of young Black people are all examined through succinct yet no less devastating pieces. The coming of age poems are standouts, presenting the expectations for women from a young age . . . McBride is gifted at wordplay . . . a striking and powerful debut.” —Booklist

"This is a collection that finds comfort in the uncomfortable, solace in the irreconcilable. McBride adds a distinctly original and poignant voice to the conversation around intersectionality and misogynoir… McBride creates an imaginative yet forceful argument that celebrates Black femininity without apology or concession.” —The Poetry Question

“Reading Thick With Trouble by Amber McBride is the hoodoo holler handbook to counteract what ills us in this bleeding ‘house that drips’ called America. Here, freedom fights fluidly against spiritual and physical oppositions where ‘a ghost can't write a ghost story,’ but a Black woman can ‘gospel us into folklore.’ I stand in awe before this offering of dark principles, divinations at the blade edge of an enjambment, and dire metamorphoses. ‘Prayer rubs soft, gives way to clouds— /skulls crack and crack,’ she writes, and I believe in the prophet of this forecast. So should you.” —Phillip B. Williams, author of Mutiny

Thick with Trouble is a collection that sings like a chorus, an evocative and ancient kind of singing, incantatory and empowered. With poetic forms that challenge and surprise, Thick with Trouble is a knowing debut that subverts perceptions with lyricism, and calls upon the supernatural and ancestral to complicate and enlighten our collective gaze.” —Rio Cortez, author of Golden Ax

Author

© Amber McBride
Amber McBride is the author of Me (Moth), a young adult novel that was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and won the 2022 Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Her work has been published in Ploughshares and Provincetown Arts, among other publications. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia. View titles by Amber McBride