Book review: Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

Why should you read this book?

I always keep a poetry book around and read a few poems each day. I finished Magical Negro by Morgan Parker this week and I have to say that I am amazed by Parker’s writing!

Magical Negro is a such a short poetry collection but it packs a punch. The poems revolve around black heritage and what it means to be black in our world.

Parker is such a resourceful, powerful and extraordinary poet. Her writing is touching and clever and I was amazed by the way she’s able to convey her message: the feelings of displacement and all the trauma, grief and objectification black people feel. I remember reading certain poems and feeling unable to proceed. I would linger. I would take my time. I would reread those verses and indulge myself in her words, in the way she weaves her poems. They are so skillfully and beautifully written.

I’d like to thank Tin House Books for sending a review copy. You can buy the book here.



Magical Negro is an archive of Black everydayness, a catalogue of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms and customs. These poems are both elegy and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception. They connect themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma and objectification, while exploring tropes and stereotypes of Black Americans.

Focused primarily on depictions of Black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics – of both the body and society, of both the individual and the collective experience.

In Magical Negro, Morgan Parker creates a space of witness, of airing grievances, of pointing out patterns. In these poems are living documents, pleas, latent traumas, inside jokes and unspoken anxieties situated as firmly in the past as in the present – timeless Black melancholies and triumphs.

Book Details:

Publisher: Tin House Books
Published on: February 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Price: $15.95

4 stars


magical negro morgan parker poetry tin house books

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