There is no escaping. There is no hiding. There is only you and the page and the hauntings in which Taylor Byas brings forth in each poem. Bloodwarm is a book that chills the spine, yes, but also meditates on the now. We are at a gas station. We are on Twitter. We are leaving a voicemail for Madam C.J. Walker. Through rhythm, repetition, and rapport, Byas weaves together poems that will decor the night while we sit in the dark corner counting to ten, then screaming “ready or not, here I come.” And although we seek, it is her words that find us.
—Luther Hughes, Founder of Shade Literary Arts
Taylor Byas gets to the bone of it. In Bloodwarm, Byas illuminates Blackness and the ways in which this country is riddled with a violent colonial gaze and a thirst for Black blood, even in the grocery store, at the gas station, on the night roads of Alabama in a sundown town, in the cage of a pantoum, the ease of a sonnet, the revelatory erasure. These poems are exact in their questioning—Byas gives the reader a beating heart on each page, even when that heart is stopped by a policeman’s gun or by the slur thrown into a speaker’s back. There is a “gift [of] fire” in these pages. Byas, unrelenting, ignites us all.
—Ashley M. Jones, author of Magic City Gospel, Dark//Thing, and Reparations Now!
I trust Taylor Byas with language; her poems are giving, durable, flexible and her debut chapbook collection Bloodwarm is no different. Byas offers a complex blend of form and free verse in between each poem as she scavenges for a space she can call safe for the Black woman. Byas writes, “But my black ass would never be/in Spiderman’s grip. My ‘damsel-in-distress’/don’t look like Kirsten Dunst or Emma Stone—I looked.” This collection is a mirror of the Black experience through the murder, erasure, and displacement of Black people in the world and how Byas hopes to one day save us all.
—Jason B. Crawford, author of Summertime Fine and Twerkable Moments