In 2013, poet Lauren Russell acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace Hubert, a Captain in the Confederate Army. After his return from the Civil War, he fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves. One of those children was the poet’s great-grandmother. Through several years of research, Russell would seek the words to fill the diary’s omissions and to imagine the voice of her great-great-grandmother, Peggy Hubert, a black woman silenced by history. The result is a hybrid work of verse, prose, images and documents that traversed centuries as the past bleeds into the present.
Lauren Russell is the author of Descent (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2020) and What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cave Canem, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and work has appeared in various publications, including the The New York Times Magazine and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. She was assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh from 2016 to 2020. In August 2020, she joined the faculty of Michigan State University as an assistant professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and director of the RCAH Center for Poetry.