The import of sound and music, cultural iconography and the fine-spun image are pulsing throughout this second full collection of poems. in Exquisite Heats, Cherryl moves comfortably from issues of public history and personal identity to the musings of revered icons. R&B legend Rick James speaks of impropriety and addiction, Marvin Gaye reveals his aesthetic struggles as a popular artist, Alice Walker's Celie Johnson boils grits for a lover and Joe Frazier recounts the night he beat Muhammad Ali.
The Chops project evolved from Cherryl's selection as the first DIALOG Literary Fellow with the Fulton County Arts Council in Atlanta. The yearlong fellowship matched Cherryl with book artist Berwyn Hung to create an art book filled with poems. The finished book, made of vellum paper with photographic overlays and hand stitched along the spine with red thread, was published by Nexus Press and won an AIGA Gold SEED Award. It is now in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
The poems in Chops affirm Cherryl's connection with the city of Atlanta as a place that inspires her creativity. She writes poems about the process of poem-making, the impact of the ever morphing Atlanta cityscape on that process and the legacies Atlanta artists inherit from literary icons like Margaret Mitchell and Hoyt Fuller.
A MUSEOLOGY OF KIN
Cherryl's debut collection of poems probes the boundaries of family secrets and articulates what it means for women to bear the weight of those secrets. Families can be highly collusive and conspiratorial when it comes to holding on to the things someone long ago has decided is the fabric of famiily truth. These poems are what happens when a poet unravels that fabric.
"I started this book when I was pregnant with my first-born. One of my favorite aunts had died, and both my physician and then-husband forbade to travel from Indianapolis to Virginia to her funeral. I was too far along in the pregnancy, and it would be risky to stay in a car for that long or to fly. I sat at my kitchen table for weeks after Aunt Maud's death writing these poems. It was my way of mourning. I revisited every mythology and account of the people in my family that I'd absorbed as a child. It was my way of giving voice to the women whose blood I carry and who can no longer speak for themselves." ~Cherryl T. Cooley