Boston Review has long believed in the power of art to provide crucial insight into how individuals and communities process the most troubling moments in history. Poetry and fiction can offer a respite from the incessant crush of the news cycle, illuminating the humanity behind the statistics and the visceral impacts of structural inequality. While these poems inhabit different landscapes, all of these poets in some way grapple with the question of belonging—an ever-present but increasingly urgent question while the country remains in the grip of a world-historical pandemic and begins a new presidency.
Among the thought-provoking and moving work in this selection, we have celebrated author Kiese Laymon’s prose poem “And Blue,” which embodies Black love in the face of terror, and poet and academic Naomi Extra’s two poems which explore the meaning of safety within the female body. Elsewhere, writers consider the inheritance of pain, naming and generational loss, racialized violence and remembrance, and more.