Fall 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 4 Luminous Gender VesselAugust 31, 2023 |

strong jaw

The Kenyon Review · "Strong Jaw" by Alexis Pauline Gumbs once upon a time there was a strong jawed daughter. jaw so strong they called her nephew. and no. the strong jawed daughter was not safe. and even in the river the bored wives of uncles would reach and touch and grab and pull and the uncles would always blame the strong jawed nephew. no the daughter nephew with the strong and silent jaw was not safe. it got to the point where the strong jawed daughter called nephew didn’t want to wash clothes or bathe. it got to the point where the uncles were jealous and stalked daughter nephew from behind.  and this is when the elder intervened.  the oldest oldest oldest oldest old enough to know better. ok? old enough to remember that nothing was strange, called out to the strong jawed daughter nephew. come on kid. it’s hot. let’s get out of town.  and daughter nephew didn’t know why. and daughter nephew didn’t ask why. and ok, the elder didn’t say

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Photo of Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is cherished by a wide range of communities as an oracle and a vessel of love. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience as a writer and facilitator, her inclusive practice finds us and brings us into the ceremonies we have always needed. Her books include Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (AK Press, 2020), Dub: Finding Ceremony (Duke University Press, 2020), M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke University Press, 2018), Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke University Press, 2016) and Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). Gumbs recently won the 2023 Windham-Campbell Prize in poetry. She was honored with a Whiting Award in nonfiction in 2022 and lauded for creating “modern fables that offer new methods of feeling.” She was also a 2022 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow. In 2020–21 she was awarded a National Humanities Center Fellowship to work on her forthcoming biography, The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde (Farrar Strauss, and Giroux, 2024). Gumbs lives in Durham, North Carolina, where she nurtures and is nurtured by a visionary creative community while scheming toward her dream of being your favorite cousin.

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