A firsthand account of the 2014 Ferguson uprising that challenges how we document and report on political unrest.
Jacqui Germain’s debut collection, Bittering the Wound, is a first-person retelling of the 2014 Ferguson uprising. Part documentation, part conjuring, this collection works to share the narrative of the event with more complexity, audacity, care, and specificity than public media accounts typically allow. Throughout the book, Germain also grapples with navigating the impacts of sustained protest-related trauma on mental health as it relates to activism and organizing. The book also takes occasional aim at the media that sensationalized these scenes into a spectacle and at the faceless public that witnessed them.
Bittering the Wound challenges the way we discuss, write about, and document political unrest. It offers fresh language and perspective on a historic period that reverberated around the world. Germain takes the reader through poems that depict a range of scenes—from mid-protest to post-protest—and personifies St. Louis with a keen and loving eye.
Bittering the Wound was selected by Douglas Kearney as the winner of the 2021 CAAP Book Prize.
About the Author
Jacqui Germain is a poet, journalist, and former labor and student organizer living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of the chapbook When the Ghosts Come Ashore, and her poems have been published in The Rumpus, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Offing, Muzzle Magazine, Anomaly, and elsewhere, and they have been anthologized in Bettering American Poetry, Volume 3, and others.
“Every poem held me right where I was, a place also called the United States, but more specifically, in my Black life. And I am grateful to her for that, as grateful as I am for her harrowing actions in that city. Beyond gratitude, however, I feel astonishment for what she demands from her lines, from her sentences, the images she reels, the force of her skepticism, commitment, her love, that she makes it home in a place called the United States, that she won’t vanish before the headlights in her rearview do. . . . a singular work of poetry. I call it an unflinching lyric of living under brutal powers that insist 'Black life' is an oxymoron.” — Douglas Kearney, author of Sho