SistaGirl by Anondra “Kat” Williams

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sistagirlPublisher/Date:  Black Ink, July 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Short Story, Poetry
Pages:  172
Website:  http://www.anondrawilliams.com

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

A Southern woman is a delicacy: defined as a delicious, rare, or highly prized item of food; pleasing subtlety in something such as taste, smell, or color; or the quality of being easily damaged or broken.

All these qualities are revealed reading SISTAGIRL from Anondra “Kat” Williams, also author of black girl love. Her newest collection of stories and poems picks up where black girl love left off, but adds an extra pinch of down-home charm. For a girl like Williams, born and bred in Mississippi, this volume of Southern sensibilities is her bread-and-butter, her calling card. She knows the South, and she definitely knows women.

I saw it when I read the title story, about loving your sista no matter whom she loves, and in “Saturday Mornings,” recalling the memories of Mama and her friends gossiping and commiserating around the table over cups of coffee, at a time when children were to hush when grown folks are talking. It’s also clear in “Southern Living,” narrated by a Northerner loving a “Mississippi thick girl” with hot grits ready every Sunday.

One of the biggest themes in SistaGirl is growth, as a woman and in relationships, a trip back to the girl you used to be, and the woman you are now. Tales such as “Years” recount the affair between a woman in love and a woman who doesn’t want to be caught, realizing one can come back home. In “Firsts” and “15,” the evolution of love is shown, the former being first loves, and the latter growing older together. I reveled in the coziness of the poem, “morning,” reminding me with talks in the arms of your soulmate.

Like a side of buttered cornbread next to your collard greens, the drama finagles its way to the plate in SistaGirl, as well. Stories of crazy love (“Time”), domestic abuse (“Roses”), and dating women with husbands (“How You Get’em”) round out this set. And lest you worry, there’s some “good joog” in there also, with a stimulating game of “Tic-tac-toe” that I need to, ahem, play one of these nights.

Her bonuses, “Top 10 Rules for Being a Lesbian” and “The 11 Lesbians You Will Meet in Your Lifetime”, are humourously spot-on. Williams also includes a except from her upcoming fall 2014 novel, Pat Greene, which I’m looking forward to.

Williams’ SistaGirl exposes the hearts of real women. I found her stories to be exceedingly true in sentiment, but a little slack on the editing. A couple of stories ended abruptly that I wanted to see continue, or at least be fleshed out further. That aside, SistaGirl is all the women in your life, and may be you. And the love of good woman is hard to beat.

Reviewed August 2013

Read the Catching Up With… Interview with Anondra “Kat Williams

About Anondra “Kat” Williams

Anondra “Kat” Williams is writer, poet, radio host and all around lover of words. Her first foray into writing was black girl love released in 2011 and her second book SistaGirl released August 2013. Both are a collection of short stories and poetry, detailing everyday love and life between women who love women.

Kat’s work is currently featured in the anthologies Life, Love & Lust 1 & 2 a collection of short stories & Her Voice a collection of poetry. She will also be in the soon to be released Geechee to Gumbo: Black Southern Womanloving Culture & Politics and G.R.I.T.S: Girls Raised In The South – An Anthology on Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices and Their Allies.

In 2009 she started Shades Retreat: Personal, You. Shades Retreat is a empowerment, growth and change retreat for queer women of color. Shades Retreat occurs once a year during the third week of April.


the bull-jean stories by Sharon Bridgforth (Jan. 2012 Pick of the Month)

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Publisher/Date:  Red Bone Press, Aug. 1998
Genre:  Poetry
Pages:  109
Website:  http://www.sharonbridgforth.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

na/i’s a wo’mn
whats Lovved many wy’mns.
me/they call me bull-dog-jean i say
that’s cause i works lik somekinda ole dog
trying to get a bone or two
they say it’s cause i be sniffing after wy’mns
down-low/beggin and thangs
whatever.

the bull-jean stories, written by accomplished author and playwright Sharon Bridgforth, is a Southern-fried poetic masterpiece. Like bites of mama’s golden fried chicken, the words coat your pallet with a flavor that warms the soul. The rhythm of Bridgforth’s tale of a rough-talkin’, blue-collar bulldagga in the 1920s likens itself to prose that creates a vivid love story.

bull-jean is a willing participant in love, as narrated by neighbor Cuss. Cuss watches and reports every bull-jean sighting with the expressiveness of an old lady busybody. Through her eyes, we see bull-jean fall in love faster than greased lightning, having no problem expressing her feelings to the one she loves.

am asking you to be my wo’mn
whole and complete in all essence
i want to make this journey/this Life
wid you i want to wake
to the smell of your hair/the taste
of your neck each morning/i
want you curled in to me so i can
turn you open/to the
light of your eyes

Every chapter is a lesson learned because bull-jean can’t find the right woman. She becomes enamored with the wrong ones, and never feels like she’ll love again. It’s a place we’ve all been, and Bridgforth tells it with such devotion and passion.

By the book’s end, we witness a woman who had to go through to get it right. Short but sweet, Bridgforth’s writing captures the black lesbian song of the South, a time when being gay or black wasn’t a desirable status to the powers that be. Yet, bull-jean was not ashamed, just a woman who lived her life and sacrificed and took care of the people she loved.

the bull-jean stories has a blues, spiritual and inspirational soundtrack, one that sheds light on our history and reminds us our kind of love has been around for generations – but it’s still the same refrain.

Reviewed January 2012