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  • Writer's pictureChristie A. Cruise, PhD

Journeying Through Words: The Birth of ‘Thick Black Lines’

Greetings, dear readers! Cast your minds back to 2021, when I embarked on what was supposed to be a 12-month sabbatical to breathe life into a new poetry book. If the details have faded, no worries—my past blogs have the story well-preserved. Now, more than two years later, after extending the sabbatical to a reflective 14 months, the poetic journey I undertook during this time has yielded a project close to my heart—my upcoming chapbook, "Thick Black Lines." When I initially set out, I intended to craft a full-length poetry book. However, the creative process had different plans, teaching me valuable lessons about art, patience, and the profound role of the artist as a vessel. Traveling through the arid deserts of Arizona, the vibrant seas of Curaçao, and the historic tapestries of Washington, D.C., I absorbed the beauty of oceans, seas, trees, art, landscapes, people, and stories, each moment etching its mark on my creative soul.

Oh, the Places I’ll Go!

Embarking on my sabbatical, the red hues of the Arizona landscape stirred my creativity. Sedona, Scottsdale, and Phoenix became my poetic sanctuaries, where the vast mountains whispered stories, and saguaro cacti stood as silent composers under the desert sun. From the arid Southwest, I found myself surrounded by the rhythmic beats of the Caribbean in the Dominican Republic. The vibrant culture, azure waters, and the warmth of the people infused my verses with a newfound energy. A pause in the journey led me to the southernmost point of the U.S. – Key West, to the Studios of Key West. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the tranquil island ambiance and the whispers of the spirits of the enslaved peoples buried at Higgs Beach fueled my contemplations on life and the Black experience in America. 

Moving north, the rich history, academic ambiance, and legacy of literary giants in Amherst and Boston awakened a new depth in my poetry, painting verses with intellectual tones. The picturesque landscapes of Cape Cod offered a serene backdrop for introspection. The ebb and flow of the Atlantic inspired verses that danced with the rhythm of the tides. Amidst the urban hustle of Providence and the artistic pulse of Washington, D.C., I found a symphony of city life. Museums and monuments became metaphors, and the cacophony of voices inspired verses that mirrored the heartbeat of a nation. The brilliant colors of Curaçao's architecture and the crystalline waters provided a vivid palette for my words. Each alleyway and beach became a canvas for poetic expression, capturing the essence of this Caribbean gem.

Good Things Take Time

Early on, it became apparent that this project wasn't one to be rushed. The poems themselves became my guides, asserting their authority over the timeline. In this realization, I discovered that the essence of the work demanded a chapbook format—compact yet potent, allowing each verse to breathe with intention. The journey of creating "Thick Black Lines" illuminated a sentiment often shared among poets—the artist is a vessel for the art. This surrender to the creative process became a liberating and enlightening aspect of my artistic evolution. "Thick Black Lines" emerged as a labor of love, a testament to the emotional landscapes traversed during the sabbatical. The focus of the chapbook extends to the experiences of Black people, with a particular emphasis on the nuanced perspectives of Black women. Themes of race relations in the pandemic years, grief and loss, and systemic oppression are interwoven throughout the verses, creating a tapestry of shared experiences.

Thick Black Lines

I'm thrilled to announce that Finishing Line Press will be releasing "Thick Black Lines" on June 28, 2024. The journey from concept to publication has been an insightful one, and I invite you to join me in celebrating this milestone. Advance copy and prepublication sales will be available from February 26 to May 3, 2024, offering you a chance to be among the first to delve into the chapbook's impassioned verses. Over the next few months, I'll be taking you behind the scenes of "Thick Black Lines," offering glimpses into my writing process and providing an overview of the poetry within the text. Each piece holds a story, and I'm excited to share the inspirations, challenges, and revelations that shaped this chapbook.

Person sitting in front of a painting.
Photo: Katie Wright Photography

As I stand on the precipice of this upcoming release, I extend my gratitude for your continued support. "Thick Black Lines" is more than a collection of poems; it's a reflection of shared humanity, a mirror held up to the complexities of our world. Stay tuned for the unfolding narrative, and let's embark on this poetic journey together.

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