Cover of Remica Bingham-Risher's Room Swept Home, layered over a transparent background of the same cover

New this month!

Celebrate African American History Month with Room Swept Home, a heartfelt tribute from one woman to her foremothers.

Remica Bingham-Risher’s new book of poems, Room Swept Home, brings research, scholarship, and poetry together, breathing life into history. Room Swept Home serves as a gloriously rendered magnifying glass, peering into all that is held in the lines between the private and public, the investigative and generative, the self and those who came before us.

In a strange twist of kismet, Remica Bingham-Risher’s paternal great-great-great grandmother, Minnie Lee Fowlkes, is interviewed for the Works Progress Administration Slave Narratives in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1937; and her maternal grandmother, Mary Knight, is sent to Petersburg in 1941, diagnosed with “water on the brain”—postpartum depression being an ongoing mystery—nine days after birthing her first child. Utilizing primary and secondary sources, Bingham-Risher weaves together a richly textured vision of her foremothers’ everyday and exceptional living: two very different women at opposite ends of their lives, converging upon the same space and time. The lives these women inhabit and generations they fostered add infinite layers to the fabric of the American tapestry. Braiding meticulous archival research with Womanist scholarship and her hallmark lyrical precision, Bingham-Risher’s latest collection of poems treads the murky waters of race, lineage, faith, mental health, women’s rights, and the violent reckoning that inhabits the discrepancy between lived versus textbook history, asking: What do we inherit when trauma is at the core of our fractured living?

from Room Swept Home

Cover of Remica Bingham-Risher's Room Swept Home

XI. the more ground covered, the more liberated you became

I am scared my mind will turn on me. 
I am scared I will be naked in a burning 
house. I am scared my children won’t outpace me.
I am scared my children (who aren’t made by me) 
believe I am a sad imitation of the others.
I am scared I will gather in a room
where everyone will ask me to remember
and when I don’t lie they’ll say I’d hate to be you
I’ve lived long enough to be scared my kidneys 
will give out on me. I’ve lived long enough to know just 
when they should. I have never shared my fears 
with anyone; I am scared they will map the land 
and take liberties. Will the women be ashamed? 
I’m scared to ask. What will live again? What will die with me?

“You won’t leave Room Swept Home without some joyful-noise-making, some weeping, some humming, some wild pride. I leave soothed and startled into recognition. I leave proclaiming my honest-to-God name. Remica Bingham-Risher ushers in the voices of all my kin. Her grandmothers are my own, are yours, are ours.”
—Courtney Faye Taylor, author of Concentrate

“From the footnotes of history, Remica Bingham-Risher’s poems skillfully call forth the ancestors whose blood fills her heart and fuels her poetic mind. Room Swept Home reminds us that our trauma is not the beginning or the end of our story.”
—Amanda Johnston, 2024 Texas Poet Laureate

“In Remica Bingham-Risher’s fearlessly imagined Room Swept Home, the author’s paternal great-great-great grandmother and maternal grandmother cross paths. What is made from their proximity is not pure myth, but proof that ‘every house with heat got a woman’s hand in it.’ Room Swept Home is a house with heat, and Remica Bingham-Risher is the woman whose meticulous hand made it so.
—Nicole Sealey, author of The Ferguson Report: An Erasure

About the Author:
Remica Bingham-Risher lives in Norfolk, Virginia, and is director of quality enhancement plan initiatives at Old Dominion University. Her books include Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books, and Questions That Grew Me Up, What We Ask of Flesh and Starlight & Error.

Photo of the author, Remica Bingham-Risher

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