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Bone Language

Distributed by YesYes Books and Ingram

Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer

Cover Art: Portia Zvavahera

"Zvandiswededza (It Has Drawn Me Closer)," 2017

Courtesy of Stevenson and David Zwirner

Photo: Mario Todeschini

$18  |  ISBN: 978-1-936919-94-9

Poetry  l  Perfectbound   |  June 15, 2023


Praise for Bone Language


Bone Language, Baldwin’s magic-flecked collection, contains a lament for the inadequacy of dreams in our world. Yet hope is found in her beautiful writing and deeply sophisticated thinking. Her language is spare and her many voices communicate with an arresting strangeness that is at once elegant and disquieting. This is a fine, skilled debut collection by a fully-formed and extremely important poet.  

 —Kwame Dawes, author of UnHistory co-written with John Kinsella


Jamaica Baldwin dedicates a cento for “Black Women Who Died from Cancer” to Gwendolyn, Audre, Lorraine, Lucille, and June—a breathtaking, heartbreaking list, and so in Bone Language, with lines now writhing and now composed, and ever sensual, she builds a house to heal the body of a Black woman after cancer. Healed by the words of these poets, Jamaica Baldwin stands with them in the hospital of her own language. She pronounces words of resistance to a curious and vengeful world. Bone Language is indeed a beautiful, needful thing.

—Valzhyna Mort, author of Music for the Dead and Resurrected


Bone Language

SKU: 2301003
  • Available Now!

    "To read Jamaica Baldwin’s debut collection attentively is to become aware of how much her poems act inside the instability of language."

    Reviewed on Rhino

  • About Bone Language

    Jamaica Baldwin’s poetry debut, Bone Language, is a testament to the specific ways women survive the world and its attacks on their bodies. At the core of this poet's survival is an engagement with a mother/daughter relationship that lives within the shadows of addiction—a love letter to mothers as they are, not as the world has asked them to be. With precision and vulnerability, Baldwin’s lyric “I,” signifies her body and its history as it reckons with loss, misogyny, racism, and desire. “I kept answering/your drowned voice with my own, / kept singing along /to our borrowed honey, / kept words, / the dead of women quick / with longing.”

  • About the Author

    Jamaica Baldwin’s debut collection, Bone Language, released in 2023 by YesYes Books. Her poetry has appeared in Guernica, World Literature Today, The Adroit Journal, Indiana Review, Poetry Northwest, and The Missouri Review, among others. Her accolades include a 2023 Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a RHINO Poetry editor's prize, and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award. Her writing has been supported by Hedgebrook, Aspen Words, Storyknife, Furious Flower, and the Jack Straw Writers program. Jamaica is currently the associate editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska -Lincoln where she is pursuing her PhD in English with a focus on poetry and Women's and Gender Studies. She is originally from Santa Cruz, CA.

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