Mineral Point Poetry Series, no. 6 • Release Date: November 28, 2017

Print ISBN: 978-1-942083-73-3 • Ebook ISBN: 978-1-942083-76-4

Brain Mill Press offers Black Genealogy in ebook and in a limited fine first edition printing of signed, numbered paperbacks. Ebook buyers receive access to MOBI (Kindle), EPUB, and PDF files, offered without DRM restrictions. Print book buyers receive a physical copy of the book and access to the ebook files in all formats.

Black Genealogy is an act of resurrection and reclamation which itself preserves the history it re-discovers and highlights. ... a critical read for anyone interested in engaging with the space between history and autobiography, poetry and genealogical research, and erasure and survival.



Petrosino’s poetry is beautiful in its spare nature, the unadorned truth sitting in blocks on the page, interrupted at turns with an almost graphic-novel style of poem illustrated by Haldeman in a simple and coarse fashion to match the content and tone of the words.

—Seattle Book Review

At a literal crossroads in the South, there are two speakers in these poems — the descendant, who has traveled here to try to find her ancestors in the archives, records, and receipts of their violent and near-unrecorded history, and the ancestors, who are alternately bemused, angry, and tender with their descendant. Petrosino’s poems argue with each other across time and seek to hear each other over the guardians and soldiers of the past who want to keep black genealogy from the descendants who would sing its truth. Interchapters illustrated by artist Lauren Haldeman reimagine the barriers of genealogical research as an enigmatic Confederate soldier with the disquieting habits and obstructive magicks of Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat.

Timely, groundbreaking, and powerful, Kiki Petrosino’s Black Genealogy has the weight of an instant classic.


Kiki Petrosino is the author of two books of poetry: Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), both from Sarabande Books. Her collection Witch Wife is forthcoming from Sarabande in December 2017. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is founder and co-editor of Transom, an independent on-line poetry journal. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville, where she directs the Creative Writing Program.


Black Genealogy features cover art and original illustrations by Lauren Haldeman.


Lauren Haldeman is the author of the poetry collections INSTEAD OF DYING (winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry), CALENDAY (Rescue Press, 2014), and THE ECCENTRICITY IS ZERO (Digraph Press, 2014). She works as a web developer, web designer, and editor during the daytime. She received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has been a finalist for the Walt Whitman award and National Poetry Series. Haldeman’s poetry comics have appeared in The Rumpus, jubilat, and The Iowa Review, among other places.

AN EXCERPT from Black Genealogy: Poems by Kiki Petrosino

© Kiki Petrosino, 2017. All rights reserved.




You’re really looking for H, future mother of B. A slave girl born in 1830 to parents unknown. Actually, you think H was born a little before that (exact years may not matter). You find a white man in the county who owned a young female some years before the war. You save this result: Old_Master. You figure that by 1856, your H was 28. Actually, no one recorded her age (her age may not matter). That year, a slave named H gave birth to a son. You save this result: H_Childbirth_1. Later, another H, same owner as the first (now called H56) had a son. You start calling her H59. Actually, you believe they’re the same. Of course, you can’t prove that H56 and H59 are the same, let alone yours, but exact proof may not matter. You know Old Master owned twelve slaves at most. So what are the chances two of them were called H? You still can’t find any sign of B, which troubles you. Until you discover the birth records for the war period: all missing. So of course, there’s nothing for B at the courthouse. Nothing at all. You create a new folder called Nothing for this lucky find.



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