paul-jones/), had read the manuscript and urged me to remove “Emancipation.” That poem’s epigraph is from Abraham Lincoln: “If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.” I used an extended metaphor of a female house slave who contemplates murder of the master to explain my plight as a subjugated wife and the courage it took, “the final insurrection,” to leave the marriage. The last line is “I am my Great Emancipator.” I was surprised by Paul’s advice. He said that using a slavery metaphor for my life was unacceptable, as I’m a white, middle-class woman. I thought that, being a man and knowing nothing about a woman’s experience, he couldn’t understand the poem.
smith.com/), an African American woman. Crystal is also a poetry editor and her warning was sufficient. I had to pull “Emancipation” and replace it with a poem just as significant and pivotal to the book. She said that though the poem would resonate with those in “this thankless role,” she agreed with Paul. “There is a term used in the black community: ignorant white bliss. I know your heart is in that poem and your intent is honorable, but I would rather you not risk being labeled that way.” She was right. I had not been enslaved, and this was not my metaphor. I needed a metaphor just as compelling but one that arose from my own ancestry. I left for the Gathering of Poets in Winston-Salem, a conference I’ve attended for five years. I took my favorite route, 54 West to the interstate, rural, gentle, and green in early spring.
by Joan Barasovska