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“A Litany of She” affirms the worth of the marginalized

A Black woman with short cropped silver hair smiles at the camera, lips closed. She is wearing tortoise-shell glasses and a royal blue top.
Author Davida Kilgore

The new book of poetry “A Litany of She” explores the experience of marginalization across race, gender, and ability.

Author Davida Kilgore says the book is inspired by her own journey empowering herself against social norms. Kilgore says she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as an adult, but because it’s a largely invisible illness, people didn’t treat her any differently. She says it was after a knee surgery, when she was placed in a wheelchair before recovering enough to use a walker, that people’s behavior toward her changed. 

“And that started influencing my writing,” said Kilgore. 

As a Black woman, Kilgore says these experiences only added to her deep sense of marginalization. Kilgore says “A Litany of She” is part of her attempt to redefine the labels that reduced her sense of self.

“I don't even call them disabilities anymore. I call them 'different-abilities.' Because ‘dis’ means to negate something,” said Kilgore. “I'm a Black, fat, differently-abled, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, soothsayer, intuitive, empathic, superstitious writer.” 

Kilgore says her chapbook challenges the norms of what society says marginalized identities deserve, while celebrating character differences, advocating for equality, and amplifying silenced voices. 

For example, a portion of the book highlights a relationship between characters “Sheila” and “Jiminy Cricket," which is threatened by another female character, “She.”

“Sheila has a disability that prevents her from walking, and so she has to be really careful where they go out on dates. And then they make love, but she has to be really careful about that, too. Whereas ‘She’ is representing all the females who are after somebody else's man,” said Kilgore.

Kilgore says this dynamic is less about a love triangle, and more about how being disabled doesn’t make you any less desirable.

“And he [Jiminy Cricket] really loves Sheila. So that's that point,” said Kilgore.

Kilgore says the book features three storylines with themes of love and relationship. She says the poems are love letters to those who can relate to feeling stripped of value in society.

text of a poem
Excerpt of Davida Kilgore's poem "Zenobia Writes About Her Spiritual Death and Becoming"

Kilgore’s work has been acknowledged both locally and nationally. She is the author of a short story collection Last Summer, and editor of an award-winning book of poetry, The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children written by children she taught in afterschool programs in St. Paul and Minneapolis.  Her work has been produced by SteppingStone Theatre, read on Broadway at Symphony Space, adapted for film, and published nationally and internationally.  Davida’s fiction recently appeared in the Water~Stone Review and midnight & indigo; her monologues appeared in 2022 Best Women’s Stage Monologues and 2022 Best Men’s Stage Monologues; and her poetry appeared in Blue Collar Review and in the anthology Let the Black Women Say Asé

“But I don't consider myself a poet," said Kilgore. "I write poetry, but a poet to me is so lofty, so elevated… I wouldn't put myself there. I just happen to write things that turn out to be poems.”

“A Litany of She” is available for pre-order.

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