Sojourner Ahebee’s Reporting from the Belly of the Night is willed with black girl teeth, stunning portraits of stunning selves, and all the rage, rhythm, and holiness you can find in an Azealia Banks song. These poems are rapid with the genius, as these lyrics unfold lush and sturdy from Ahebee’s versatile hand. This chapbook is a grand announcement, a declaration starting all the way in the back of a mighty mouth.
-- DANEZ SMITH, National Book Award Finalist (Dont Call Us Dead -- Graywolf Press)
Sojourner Ahebee is a brilliant emerging poet. Her voice, at once vivid and precise, champions the wisdom of many lineages of black women poets before her. In this debut collection she invokes those ancestors, bone-crafting a rich tapestry of language, feeling, ritual and wonder. Sally to Sojourner, Angel to Azealia, the poet pulls at the edges centering the lavish and the lonely, the magic and the mundane in each one of us. This is a rich debut from a young artist not to miss.
-- A-LAN HOLT, Author of Moonwork (Candor Arts) & THE BOTTOM OF HEAVEN
I now believe in teleportation -- which goes to say, reading Sojourner Ahebee's Reporting from the Belly of the Night transports you. Each poem drips with rich imagery and sentiment, as if you are being carried to other worlds. Sojourner is not just writing, she is world making. The personal and the political are interlocked. Her text is a necessary intervention, a clarion call of resilience and triumph, a series of love letters to Black women and femmes. She does not hold back: she addresses head on the continued legacies of anti-Blackness and misogyny, while still excavating moments of rupture and transcendence through a commitment to love and intimacy. Ahebee is a fresh voice and this collection shows she is not just emerging as a poetic voice to be reckoned with, she has emerged.
-- ALOK VAID-MENON, gender non-conforming performance artist/writer/educator & entertainer
Reporting from the Belly of the Night is a gospel of self-love full of gorgeous pullulating poems. Ahebee wrenches the sting and the sweetness from black womanhood. She evokes historical, cultural, and familial namesakes, sings up the names of daughters and aunties and mamas, makes mountains of them. This is a young woman’s poetry with an elder’s heart, unflinchingly traversing the oceans between slavery and social media. These are poems we long for and need but don’t always see coming.
-- YOLANDA WISHER, Philadelphia Poet Laureate (2016-17)
“Somewhere/an avalanche collapses.” Ahebee’s chapbook, Reporting From The Belly Of The Night, rests on these moments of sudden collapse and sudden rebirth. She defines what is means to be a woman of color, what it means to be a human, what it means to have this one body . . . Ahebee navigates the crevices of black womanhood with strength and love, while addressing the struggles of black women in a variety of spaces. These poems are a testament to this vulnerability, and are tinged with both hope as well as a desire for something more.
-- MAYA EASHWARAN, 2016 National Student Poet
Ahebee dismantles the lie of the invincible black woman. No, Ahebee's black woman is gentle, subtle, always blooming with flower petals and blanketed in soft light . . . These poems are sharp and intelligent, yet they read like a spell.
-- KAI DAVIS, Award-winning performer & Poetry Editor at Apiary Magazine