WilmU Book Club

February 2023  | Walking Gentry Home: A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
12:00pm ET

Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni are all welcome!
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Please join the WilmU Book Club for an online discussion of Walking Gentry Home: A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse by Alora Young. A poet’s homage to her family’s past. Swarthmore College student Young, Youth Poet Laureate of the Southern United States, revives her family’s “long-forgotten history,” from its unrecorded beginnings in Africa to the present, in a multigenerational memoir delicately crafted in verse.

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Walking Gentry Home tells the story of Alora Young’s ancestors, from the unnamed women forgotten by the historical record but brought to life through Young’s imagination; to Amy, the first of Young’s foremothers to arrive in Tennessee, buried in an unmarked grave, unlike the white man who enslaved her and fathered her child; through Young’s great-grandmother Gentry, unhappily married at fourteen; to her own mother, the teenage beauty queen rejected by her white neighbors; down to Young in the present day as she leaves childhood behind and becomes a young woman. 

The lives of these girls and women come together to form a unique American epic in verse, one that speaks of generational curses, coming of age, homes and small towns, fleeting loves and lasting consequences, and the brutal and ever-present legacy of slavery in our nation’s psyche. Each poem is a story in verse, and together they form a heart-wrenching and inspiring family saga of girls and women connected through blood and history.

Informed by archival research, the last will and testament of an enslaver, formal interviews, family lore, and even a DNA test, Walking Gentry Home gives voice to those too often muted in America: Black girls and women.

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