Photo: Harmony Holiday © Shelby Duncan
Harmony Holiday (b. 1982, Waterloo, Iowa) is the author of books including Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues and Hollywood Forever, and has been awarded the Motherwell Prize and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship.
As the daughter of the R&B singer and songwriter Jimmy Holiday, she was immersed in music from early childhood: ‘I just thought it was part of being human, to communicate in some form of sound grammar outside of the mundane daily rhythms and speech patterns. I never really separated poetry from music and music from the body and dance, from ways of moving through space and time.’
Her poem, ‘The City Admits No Wrongdoing’ is built around Billie Holiday, as a singer, an icon and a subject of ‘poised suffering’. Written without line-breaks, it finds its urgent rhythm in the patterns of unexpected connections: ‘She loved candies. We need sugar. We run on sugar. Melanin is carbon. Carbon is sugar. Billie is shook, hurry, you love her.’