Foreword Reviews

Bright

A Memoir

Kiki Petrosino collects poetic, honest, philosophical vignettes in Bright, an investigation into the etymology of the term for lightness as it pertains to the effects of colorism and the unintended consequences of inhabiting a body deemed undesirable.

Through methodical introspection, this collection reflects on the history, the dangers, and the joys of navigating a land that questions the validity of a voice. Her voice, Petrosino says, is of more substance than the struggles beyond her family’s racial structures bending for her creation. As a student of duality between discipline and surrender, Petrosino employs every tool in her writer’s arsenal: the entries represent the epistolary form, the devastating monostich, and cataloging authority. Here, inquisitions are portals, bending time toward the eternal present. In these thirteen sections, the terrestrial and celestial are held in the same regard— important to protect and support.

Although several voices interject, the book is carried most by the principle of illumination. It is devoted to discovering one’s place in the world—with the recognition of social limitations. In “The Maiden,” Petrosino draws close to Thomas Jefferson, gathering, sorting, and using knowledge. “The Cottage” acknowledges that Jefferson would not dare, even in his wildest dreams, to imagine Petrosino’s existence: why should she seek his approval? With guidance from elders, Petrosino gains the opportunity to move beyond wishes for change to the fulfillment of sustainable growth. Here, no single action can condemn the entirety of one’s character.

Demanding that its audience look at the ugliness of beauty and challenging who is allowed access to language, Bright is a radical interrogation of what etymology brings to alignment when all decisions are predicated on ones made before.

Reviewed by Attorious Renee Augustin

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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