Synopses & Reviews
Toi Derricottes fourth collection of poetry. Tender probes sexuality, spirituality, emotion, child abuse, mother hatred, and the physical and psychological ravages of violence. These poems are raw and upsetting in subject matter, yet extremely readable.
“There are poems that stick with you like a song that won’t stop repeating itself in your brain, poems whose cadences burrow into your bloodstream, orchestrating your breathing long before their sense attaches its hooks to your heart. Even after you think you’ve got a handle on a particular passage--how that imagery works to support the narrative, the interlocking patterns of the observed adn the unsaid--something elusive keeps sending you back to the page; and with each new reading, another layer of mystery will gently exhale and open up. Much like a favorite grandparent’s parable-disguised-as-an-anecdote, the poem will unofld when you need it but least expect it, illuminating its revelations as you grow into the lessons life has to offer.”
--The Washington Post
“In her fourth book, the award-winning Derricotte focuses on the aftermath of slavery, continued sexism and violence within the family. These poems plunge into the psychology of race and gender and other key components of identity. . . . Her work reaches out into the black and white and comes up with meaning that is often complex and rich—in short, gray. . . . Derricotte delivers frankness and hope through her thoughtful probing of encounters with complex racial and sexual relations.”
"Part of the charm of Derricotte's work - despite its raw and upsetting subject matter - is its extreme readability, from start to finish. In plain language that does not settle for simplicity or cliché, these poems probe being at its root - sexually, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually - and recount how violence-both physical and mental-ravages the self. . . . Recommended for all poetry collections."
"Raw, honest and provocative. It hits those vulnerable spots in us where we question our openness to such issues as racial harmony and sexual freedom. . . . This is an emotionally compelling collection, one that lives for the reader in its stark images."
"Derricotte's language feels, as usual, fresh and urgent, but Tender is a highly crafted volume, with poems lodged in an intricate structure. . . . Derricotte's range of diction, form, and subject is grand."
—Women's Review of Books
About the Author
Toi Derricotte is the author of The Undertaker's Daughter, The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem and professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.