|"The poems of Black Jelly are deftly-rendered, personal and musical. Buck-jumping images jingle to a sardonic backbeat. Tight, percussive lines boom in an urban pocket. Goodreaux’s parade-scape mashes up New Orleans and New York City as it waves you into a funky second line strut. One woman’s body--the emotional-physical geography of her--leads the way. Lines traverse the page like animated trolley tracks mapping a woman’s ebulliently lived and complicated journey. Nikki Johnson’s photo portrait wonders are textural moods of emotional skin."
-- Janice A. Lowe, author, Leaving CLE poems of nomadic dispersal
Fly By Night Press, a subsidiary of A Gathering of the Tribes, will be publishing Black Jelly, a new book of poems by Melanie Maria Goodreaux and photographs by Nikki Johnson in January 2019.
The launch party will take place in the evening on Friday, January 25th 2019 at the Langston Hughes House in Harlem, Manhattan, NY.
Black Jelly presents a roaming prodigal woman tossed from a traditional sense of home who wrestles with fitting into the tidy demands of womanhood. Goodreaux is both celebratory and pained by the struggle -- giving a womanist' lens with an honest and inward female dialogue on body, bulge, singleness, childlessness, and a cavalcade of characters that carry her through the long arc of life from kitchens to nightclubs to the realities of love, relationship, and eroticism. This new book of poetry and photography is memory-specific while offering striking commentary on the "formlessness" of being a woman. It is a reflective and relatable work that explores the messiness of tremendous sadness, memory, meanness, being ghosted by loved ones, while celebrating cultural roots, married life, and imperfection.
Black Jelly is the first solo book of poetry by Melanie Maria Goodreaux merged with personal photos and select photography of Nikki Johnson. Both artists bask in African-American eccentricities while mixing emblems of southern roots, religiosity, sex, death, and transformation. The two women bring their southern roots to the work. Melanie Maria is New Orleans-born, while Nikki Johnson is from Eupora, Mississippi.
Goodreaux and Johnson were introduced to each other by the legendary Steve Cannon of A Gathering of the Tribes, called the "Father of the Lower East Side Arts movement" by The New York Times when they moved to New York City. Nikki Johnson has been a documentarian of poet and playwright Melanie Maria Goodreaux ever since, representing 20 years of New York City living, from the East Village to Harlem-- with all the art and malaise in between presented in Black Jelly.