New Books Network

Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Freedom Knows My Name

Xavier Review Press 2020

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in PoetryNew Books Network October 5, 2020 Athena Dixon

In Freedom Knows My Name (Xavier Review Press, 2020), Kelly Harris-DeBerry creates the world anew from scraps of memories and rhythm. She bounces between...

In Freedom Knows My Name (Xavier Review Press, 2020), Kelly Harris-DeBerry creates the world anew from scraps of memories and rhythm. She bounces between the pages, as well as the accompanying audio version of the poems, with confidence. Kalamu Ya Salaam writes in the introduction “The poet’s task is to turn words into song, utter incantations that heal, inspire, be more than ordinary talk” and Harris-DeBerry has a voice that encompasses each other those tasks. It is strong and it is unwavering. Whether she is on the page or in readers’ ears, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry is a bounty of culture, womanhood, home, and possibility. In an age where everything can be, and is, commodified for profit and the cool factor yet the actual Black artists producing the work can be undervalued, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry honors and respects the legacies of Southern migration, the Midwest, and Blackness.

Kelly Harris-DeBerry received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center and Cave Canem. Some of her publishing credits include: 400yrs: The story of Black people in poems written from love 1619–2019,  Words Beats & Life The Global Journal of Hip Hop, Angles in the Wilderness: Young and Black in New Orleans and Beyond, Torch Literary Magazine, The National Parks Service Centennial Commemoration publication with Sonia Sanchez, Yale University’s Caduceus Journal, Southern Review, Say it Loud: Poems for James Brown and many more.  Her podcast episode for About Place Journal called Congo Square: Sustaining the Sacred Post-Katrina highlights her talents as a producer and researcher. Kelly is a former guest poetry editor for Bayou Magazine at the University of New Orleans. She serves her literary community as the New Orleans Poets & Writers’ Literary Coordinator and on various community boards. Kelly is a cultural leader with business savvy. Learn more at www.kellyhd.com.


Athena Dixon is a NE Ohio native, poet, essayist, and editor. Her essay collection, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, is forthcoming from Split/Lip Press (2020). Athena is also the author of No God in This Room, a poetry chapbook (Argus House Press). Her poetry is included in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books). Learn more at www.athenadixon.com