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Root Work Journal - Navigating the Ocean - Volume 1, Issue 2

River Roots

Shakirah Peterson




I'm a MFA student in creative writing at Louisiana State University. My work centers archival art that sheds light on the intricacies of Black life. I am constantly searching for artists/art that my work speaks with/to. I am submitting to this journal with hopes of gaining a space in a community who love, values, and appreciates Black lives as much as I do. 

at 26, I moved from California to Louisiana for grad school. my grandmother left Mississippi for California at 20. I don’t believe in coincidences. days before I boarded my Bight, I found her old photo album Clled with nameless faces, the Southern geography apparent. for ## hours, when I feel lost in this new space, I meditate on faces that are almost mine, dream of their blood and pray that it is almost mine, too.

“river roots” is a collage of black and white photos scanned with pressed Bowers, their roots intentionally preserved. I see these photos and see how Black blossoms – from a river baptism, from the porch, from the dinner table, from feet planted in land we built. I am indebted to my roots. I give my ancestors their Bowers and in return, they give me strength.


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