Nature Knows a Little About Slave Trade, Nnadi Samuel

“I: asphalt glory. Color riot, in ways that put coffins out of fashion, snithe the threading to come clean as shorelines.”

Nnadi Samuel’s prose glimmers between lines of captivating poetry in his chapbook Nature Knows a Little About Slave Trade. The impacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade are felt in our world, with pain and blood seeping into the soil and making a home in the earth. With commanding imagery, dazzling language, Samuel allows his narrative to bloom outwards, like seeds sprouting from cultivated fields. Told through a voice that is both intimate and loving and cutting and harsh, each poem unearths the generations hauling the burden of hurt on their shoulders and exposes how they must continue to exist in a world that insists on denying them. Nature Knows a Little About Slave Trade sweeps its audiences into discomfort, just as African slaves were forced from their homes, Samuel forces us into a world built on their slaughter.

“This balanced anthology of new poems and celebrated favorites showcases poet Nnadi Samuel’s wry swagger and grounded compassion as he unflinchingly scrutinizes the intersection of family and cultural trauma: pulsing mouths, hot air, scratchy fabric, blood, dirt roads, intellectualism, tears, wordplay, birth, sugarcane. ‘This year, violence preserved my delicate life.’”
Romie Stott, senior poetry editor of Strange Horizons

“In Nature Knows a Little About Slave Trade, Nnadi Samuel draws attention to the trauma and violence inflicted against marginalized peoples, including women, Blacks, and immigrants. These poems burn with bright, pained images and complexity, asking “what vows held us back from the sea this long” and how we carry on “as exclamations below a cop’s knee, / monsoon, ruptured breath.” By exposing the wounds of these traumas and posing important questions about visibility and accountability, Samuel invites readers to ponder resilience, culpability and authentic resolution–for when suffering “outlives magic: this tearing apart of mashed / bodies, without incurring a bloodstain / there are no easy routes to resuscitation.” In other words, where do our breaking spirits and weary bodies lead us in a world which often prefers that we remain marginalized? What will we find when–if–we finally arrive?”
Joan Kwon Glass, author of NIGHT SWIM