Cherene Sherrard-Johnson Publishes New Poetry Collection

Image of cover of book "Grimoire" featuring the back of a black woman's head with elaborately braided hair above a clavicle bone with flowering vines growing through it.

IRH Senior REI Fellow Cherene Sherrard-Johnson’s latest poetry collection, Grimoire, is now available for pre-order from Autumn House Press. Named after a magical textbook, Grimoire is “centered on the recovery and preservation of ancestral knowledge and on the exploration of black motherhood. Incorporating experiences of food preparation, childrearing, and childbearing, the book begins with a section of poems that re-imagine recipes from one of the earliest cookbooks by an African-American woman: Mrs. Malinda Russell’s A Domestic Cookbook. Mrs. Russell’s voice as a nineteenth-century chef is joined in conversation with a contemporary amateur cook in poetic recipes that take the form of soft and formal sonnets, introspective and historical lyric, and found poems. In the second section, the poet explores black maternal death and the harrowing circumstances surrounding birth for women of color in the United States. Throughout Grimoire, Sherrard explores the precarity of black mothering over the last two centuries and the creative and ingenious modes of human survival.”