Holly Bass


Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue


a sonnet for saartjie, elizabeth and betty

Booty  bustle  funk: it boils down to this,
centuries of black femininity condensed.
Spectral and spectacular, haunting, these Eves,
hymens and hymns locked tight by history.
Whither thou goest, thou goest not alone
hell-bent, northbound, to build your rightful throne.
O pioneers! Go get your hustle on—
shake it or stitch or rock til break of dawn.

What right have I to treat your life as trope?
Some common DNA perhaps detected,
tenuous thread on which I hang my hopes.
Here, my dears, I hold you safe, protected.
Your archeology, it speaks to me,

raced heroines of this new century.


Holly Bass is a writer, performer and director. Her most recent body of work explores the endless allure of booty—from the Venus Hottentots to video vixens. A Cave Canem fellow, her poems have appeared in Callaloo, nocturnes (re)view, and the anthologies Role Call, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC and The Ringing Ear, Black Poets Lean South. She was a founding member of DC WritersCorps and continues to work as a teaching artist in schools, colleges and community centers. She has received numerous grants from the DC Arts Commission and was one of twenty artists nationwide to receive 2008 Future Aesthetics grant from the Ford Foundation/Hip Hop Theater Festival. In 2014, she initiated a year-round creative writing and performance program at Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention center in northeast DC. To read more by this author: It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Vol. 10:2, Spring 2009 Introduction, It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Vol. 10:2, Spring 2009 Audio Issue, Vol. 9:4, Fall 2008 Five Poems, Vol. 3:2, Spring 2002