Table of contents

  • : Acknowledgements
  • : Introduction
  • : John Ware: Magician Cowboy
  • : Fugitive
  • : Jupiter Wise
  • : Uncles
  • : Shots Rang Out on My Street Today
  • : What Do You Do with the Hurt?
  • : For Poetry’s Sake: The Four Seasons
  • : Cimarron
  • : Guadalajara Street
  • : Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right
  • : Lami and Nina
  • : Things I Like Doing
  • : Live with You in a House by the River
  • : You Dance
  • : Bad Bwoy Jimi
  • : Queen of Cool
  • : See-far Woman
  • : A World Greener Than Eden
  • : Congo Songs: By the Rivers of Babylon, Part Two



Halifax’s former Poet Laureate Afua Cooper and photographer Wilfried Raussert collaborate in this book focused on everyday Black experiences. The result is a jambalaya — a dialogue between image and text. Cooper translates Raussert’s photos into poetry, painting a profound image of what disembodied historical facts might look like when they are embodied in contemporary characters. The result is a work that amplifies black beauty and offers audible resistance.


  • Long-listed, Pat Lowther Memorial Award 2021
  • Short-listed, J.M. Abraham Poetry Award 2021
  • Winner, Portia White Prize 2020
  • Short-listed, APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award 2021


“How fortunate we are to have the record of this collaborative generosity and what a potent and timely conversation to be having. This is the agility of art: extending back into history with the vitality of a future fortified by dignity while remaining firmly rooted in the present. What combusts is inspiration?—?the sustainability of art in practice and how it makes sense of this time we’ve been brought together in. I’m so grateful for the contribution this book will make, the poignant energy it is composing for the living archive we’re making as we go. ”

- Sue Goyette, Halifax Poet Laureate and author of Ocean

“This artful text is the emphatic means by which Afua Cooper and Wilfried Raussert arrive at this historical moment. Crafted on an anvil of brilliant collaboration in the wild and overlapping histories of the modern world, the marks of Black life are revealed everywhere. This far-seeing work is a beautiful visual object that imagines us beyond the narrow spaces of coloniality. Black Matters intervenes at every turn. ”

- Canisia Lubrin, author of The Dyzgraphxst and Voodoo Hypothesis

“If Black lives matter, what sort of matter is Blackness? To address this question, Afua Cooper and Wilfried Raussert bring vision and text together. In this beautifully sculpted book they stretch the skein of Blackness around grief, love, strength, persistence and revelation. ”

- Robbie Shilliam, author of Decolonizing Politics and The Black Pacific