Charnell Peters is a communication scholar, editor, and writer who earned her M.A. in Media & Communication (international/intercultural communication specialization) from Bowling Green State University. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Communication (critical/cultural focus area) at the University of Utah, where she studies the communication of race, identity, and space/place through qualitative and arts-based methods. A native Hoosier, Charnell is the editor of the Ruminate Magazine blog.
You can now order Charnell’s debut poetry chapbook, Un-becoming, from Thirty West Publishing House. These semi-autobiographical free verse and prose poems explore Black feminine embodiment in the Midwest and the making, unmaking, and remaking of the body in spaces that are conceptualized as non-places and White spaces.
Reviews of Un-becoming:
Tightly woven together, Peters’ poems juxtapose one another like provocative paintings in a museum exhibit and build upon one another, using motifs of light and water, skin and pores, palms and hands, prayers and spirituals…To say that this first collection of an emerging poet is spectacular is not overstatement; it truly is an astonishing chapbook. Read full review here.
—Julie Moore, author of 4 collections of poetry, including Full Worm Moon and Particular Scandals
Un-becoming is a collection that we need. Both skin and strength are at the very core of Charnell Peters’ gorgeous debut, which presents a body that becomes and “un-becomes” throughout various stages of girlhood, womanhood, and over the course of human history. Even when Peters’ speaker is transported outside the realm of her own body, history, written from a white man’s perspective is confronted. What remains a constant is the black body, as the poet gradually deconstructs form to confront these histories. The speaker sees her own skin in every facet, every corner, or in Peters’ own words, “what are we but edges, / made and unmade / by the waters of our mouths?”
—Dorothy Chan, Editor-in-Chief of The Southeast Review, Author of Attack of the Fifty Foot Centerfold and Chinatown Sonnets
Charnell Peters is a poet who can “firesing the stones/in [our] stomachs to dust.” Don’t believe it? Read “An Uncertain Map of How I Got Raced.” Read this whole book from beginning to end, then read it again. “The Only Two Things I Gotta Do/is be black and die./In the meantime I’ll stop/and consider…,” she writes, and as I consider alongside her, I’m consistently stunned by the journey and the guide. This debut(!) comprises bodies, hands “tendon-rippling,” and finally whole histories—elegiac, funny, tender, powerful—realized in a singular new voice from Middle America I didn’t know how much I needed.
—Daniel Bowman Jr., author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country; Editor-in-Chief, Relief: A Journal of Art & Faith; associate professor of English, Taylor University