Arriel Vinson is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer who describes her writing as: "about being young, black, and in search of freedom." Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets 2020, Best of the Net 2019, and a Pushcart Prize, and has appeared in Kweli Journal, Catapult, BOOTH, Cosmonauts Avenue, Waxwing, and Electric Literature–just to name a few.
I had the good fortune and delight to read alongside her at feminist community bookstore and cafe, Cafe Con Libros' Renegade Reading Series in Brooklyn, New York, last year. I was immediately swept away by her powerful delivery and language. Her recent poem, "Minnesota," which is after Morgan Parker with a line from a Najma Sharif tweet, operates as a kind of time capsule of how I've been left feeling as a Black woman in America these past few weeks.
The world is burning again. I haven’t stomached a full meal in days. Justice is an imaginary word. The police kneel on necks and white people say “but.” I am required to work when Black people are dying. I send emails as Black people set shit on fire. I can’t grieve something that never stops.
The speaker here is honest, she is fearless, and she does not shy away from her own emotions or overwhelm or even indulgence, which may come off as surprising to some. Vinson's tone and masterful craft manages to do what countless news stories, emails, phone conversations, and group chats have failed–to take an unforgettable snapshot of one woman from a generation at the precipice of a world ending, and another possible, more hopeful one emerging from its ashes. "Hear we shall overcome. Hear burn, baby, burn."