What Noise Against the Cane

Finalist, National Book Awards 2021 for Poetry

ISBN  9780300256536
Yale University Press
Desiree C. Bailey

Desiree C. Bailey is the author of What Noise Against the Cane, which won the 2020 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the fiction chapbook In Dirt or Saltwater. More about this author >

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What Noise Against the Cane is a lyric quest for belonging and freedom, weaving political resistance, Caribbean folklore, immigration, and the realities of Black life in America. Desiree C. Bailey begins by reworking the epic in an oceanic narrative of bondage and liberation in the midst of the Haitian Revolution. The poems move into the contemporary Black diaspora, probing the mythologies of home, belief, nation, and womanhood.

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“I begin / in black smoke washing / the island” writes Desiree C. Bailey, giving us a debut that is epic in its sweep, yet intimately lyrical. Bursting with imagery and insight, What Noise Against the Cane instructs by incantation and appeals by song. So out of historical pain, a new music is made. This is a remarkable first book, one that fearlessly takes on larger narratives of diaspora and revolt via symphonic, memorable language.


Desiree C. Bailey, 2021 NBAwards Poetry Finalist, reads from WHAT NOISE AGAINST THE CANE