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In searing poetry, Jacqui Germain revisits Ferguson protests in ‘Bittering the Wound’

Poet Jaqui Germain
Autumn House Press
St. Louis poet Jaqui Germain, author of "Bittering the Wound."

St. Louis poet and journalist Jacqui Germain’s debut full-length poetry collection, “Bittering the Wound,” takes the reader back to the tear gas-choked nights of the Ferguson protests. Germain was there in 2014 — marching with others down West Florissant in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown.

The cover of "Bittering the Wound," which features a stylized illustration of a women in a squat and staring out toward the viewer.
Autumn House Press
The cover of "Bittering the Wound."

The collection, which was selected as the 2021 CAAPP Book Prize, is described by publisher Autumn House Press as “a first-person retelling of the 2014 Ferguson uprising” and “part documentation, part conjuring.”

For Germain, that approach offers a particular distinction between her poetry and the many books, articles and analyses written about the protests in the past eight years. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, she explained that “Bittering the Wound” is not an attempt to write “about” Ferguson.

“I think writing about Ferguson from this kind of outside observer perspective, it's the kind of angle that you're hearing folks reaching for some sort of objective analysis or conclusion or description,” she noted. “I wanted to write to Ferguson, because I wanted to be in a relationship [with it] because I was literally there… I wanted this to be very, very subjective. My bias is very much clear, and I'm not shy about that. I wanted to write to that feeling and directly into that feeling.”

During Thursday’s conversation, Germain read from two poems, "A List of Items Recovered from Protesters" and “Nat Turner comes to the highway action.”

To hear more from Jacqui Germain’s talk with guest host Jeremy Goodwin, and to learn more about her journey through protests, poetry and journalism, listen to the full conversation on St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

Jacqui Germain revisits the Ferguson protests in ‘Bittering the Wound’

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."