Cradle Song

Cradle Song is a book-length poem in sections that grapples with issues of race, family, and cultural identity against the backdrop of the poet’s childhood in the South. Read an excerpt from Cradle Song.

Blurbs for Cradle Song

At the center of Stacey Lynn Brown’s collection of poetry Cradle Song is Gaither, a hard-working, blade-wielding, quick-tempered, sometimes reckless black woman who served as the speaker’s nanny. The complicated inheritances of race relations, Southern identity, white superiority, and unheralded bonds between black and white folk are explored in this brutally candid sequence of poems that unflinchingly elevates and portraits Gaither’s humanity, pain and struggle into the realm of folklore. One can only admire such honesty and realize such struggles of consciousness represent the blues idiom that is 21st century America finding shape in elegant language that advances momentous understandings of our complex history.

–Major Jackson

Here’s a cycle of poems that feels perfectly timed for our current American moment, as conversations and memories grow more interesting again and we imagine rising up into a better shared story. These are poems that wrap right around you, carrying a reader into a richly textured world of voices and scenes, gritty and cozy memories pressed up side-by-side, in delicious readable resonance. Stacey Lynn Brown has a real feel for rhythm and narrative, her gait is eloquently tuned. No flab, no digression. Take this book and travel.

–Naomi Shihab Nye

Stacey Lynn Brown knows that great emotional complexity requires simplicity, and she knows, too, when to get the tropes out of the way of the main story. She writes sparely and lucidly of privilege, sacrifice, and guilt; of what a mother is, and what a muse is. With Cradle Song she has accomplished a book-length narrative poem that seems to me one of our most compelling documents on race, family, and cultural identity.

–Rodney Jones


“Part of Cradle Song’s considerable power lies in its resistance to cliché. Turning a curious, hard and compassionate gaze upon the past, the book keeps faith with the complicated legacy of the poet’s Southern roots…Casting the book as a long poem in sections allows Brown to move among these interrupting and dialoguing voices nimbly, lending Cradle Song a feeling of great fluency. Such fluency can be hard won, but even as she deals with the messy realities of adult knowledge, love and grief, Brown’s poetry is accessible and pared down. Brown doesn’t make hard facts look easy but, in her hands, poetry is a giving art.”

–Jenny Mueller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch