Thresh & Hold
Dekine’s poems travel across age and time, signaling that both the past and future exist in the present. Through erasure and persona, Dekine reimagines and calls to task the Works Progress Administration narratives, modern-day museums, and intergenerational traumas.
A New York Times New-in Poetry feature
Marlanda Dekine’s debut collection is a holy, radical unlearning and reclamation of self. What does it mean to be a Gullah-Geechee descendant from a rural place where a third of the nation’s founding wealth was harvested by trafficked West and Central Africans? Dekine’s poems travel across age and time, signaling that both the past and future exist in the present. Through erasure and persona, Dekine reimagines intergenerational traumas and calls institutions from the Works Progress Administration narratives to modern-day museums to task.
Beyond gospel music, fear, and the stories of generations past, Thresh & Hold offers magic, healing, and innovative pathways to manifest intimacy. Dekine remembers, remakes, and brings forth their many selves, traveling far in order to deeply connect to a spiritual home within and all around them, calling: “I am listening to Spirit. I am not dying today.”
Marlanda Dekine is the winner of the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize.
Praise for Thresh & Hold
"I cannot and will not put Marlanda Dekine’s, Thresh & Hold down. The world it builds, celebrates, and reclaims is a reckoning and a symphony. From the brutality of the rice plantations of South Carolina to the specific privacy found inside one’s Saturn Vue, the breadth of human experience that unfold in these poems cover histories that, we too often forget, are all intimate stories. Dekine reminds us that every moment we read about is a moment some body has fought or celebrated or been unable to live through. The effect of this is that we are brought into the vast music of a world that is endlessly unfolding, It’s fairly common to read poems that speak about community but there are only a handful of poets alive; Nikky Finney, Destiny Hemphill, CA Conrad come to mind, whose poems truly make community as the work blooms before us. This is a poet of that order and ability. I am so blown away by the gift and the challenge of this book. A book that not for one moment looks away from the brutality and beauty of this world. A book that says, “I am listening to Spirit. I am not dying today.” —Gabrielle Calvocoressi, author of Rocket Fantastic, contest judge
"We are made of our past, present and future. We are made of the earth that birthed us and the earth we return to when we die. We are made of our ancestors and their voices, which stay alive in us. Marlanda Dekine knows this. They know the land and the blood and the way the body remembers. In these poems, there is a spirit and the rage, love, questioning, medicine, healing, and frenzy of that spirit. There is place and heart, there is accountability and doubt. This book is a prayer and a fist, a history and the hope that comes only from true reckoning, the listening that makes light." —Ashley M. Jones, author of Reparations Now!
"This quare ode, this moonbowed conjure, this full-throated hymn-hum to Gullah-Geechee geographies. Lush and fraught, this manuscript brims over with nightingales and okra, inheritance and dispossession, ascent and descent, and flesh that finds rest outside of the body. “Exhausted of singing in an empire’s hopeful choir,” Dekine’s Thresh & Hold offers another song that is full of flight and reverent to earth’s sacred mysteries. The polyvocal chants of this collection honor the riverine nature of Black homeplace as quietly babbling, muddy with histories, multidirectional, flooding, ever-changing—yet & still, as Morrison reminds us, with a perfect memory."—Destiny Hemphill, author of Oracle: A Cosmology