Ota Benga under My Mother's Roof
About the Author
Kevin Simmonds is a writer, musician, and filmmaker originally from New Orleans. He is the author of Mad for Meat and editor of Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality. Simmonds's collaborations include the Emmy Award–winning documentary HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica and Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse, both commissioned by the Pulitzer Center. His genre-defying films include Singing Whitman and feti(sh)ame. He divides his time between San Francisco and Japan.
"In a narrative that moves like a classical tragedy, Ota Benga is 'caught in a web / of flawed science,' but emerges as a complex and real figure, a man out of time, out of place, whose dignity and humanity have left us with a harrowing story shared here by one who knew him best. Carrie Allen McCray weaves a rich tapestry in this cultural epic. We hear African rhythms and tribal voices, we encounter poems that seem like plays and chants and rituals and journal excerpts, and we witness the 'birth of anthropology' with an awful, embedded racism in its infancy. In McCray's loving portrait of Ota Benga, we come to relish the small touches as much as the large ones—the landscape of turn-of-the-century Virginia, the manners of folks at work and play, the sense of tribal and familial loyalty, and the voices that accumulate into a cultural symphony, sometimes broken into grief, sometimes sustained by joy."—David Baker, poetry editor, Kenyon Review
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