You Will Never Be Forgotten
The Dominant Animal


9780374538897 fc
Paperback, MCD × FSGO, 2020
read an excerpt

Growing up, Roya Marsh was considered “tomboy passing." With an affinity for baggy clothes, cornrows, and bandanas, she came of age in an era when the wide spectrum of gender and sexuality was rarely acknowledged or discussed. She knew she was “different,” her family knew she was “different,” but anything outside of the heteronorm was either disregarded or disparaged.

In her stunning debut, written in protest to an absence of representation, Marsh recalls her early life and the attendant torments of a butch Black woman coming of age in America. In lush, powerful, and vulnerable verses, dayliGht unpacks traumas to unearth truths, revealing a deep well of resilience, a cutting sense of irony, and an astonishing fresh talent. This is a dazzling debut from a necessary new voice, at once a clarion call for stories of Black women and a rebuke of broken notions of sexuality and race.

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An excerpt from dayliGht

in broad daylight black girls look ghost

"Carefully, i arrange my disguise. It has been designed not to stand out . . . i decide to look like a poor Black woman."
—Assata Shakur

i’m good with my tongue.

it makes me most visible.

with a shut mouth I’m a good dresser.

     a flapping tongue makes me:


       well learned

       a conquest

my voice is more pronounced than my skin tone

and i need to know why

i track down my ancestry through DNA

i track down someone with my last name

she tell me it’s hers

she white

says it’s funny how I’m black

i say, “ha-ha”

results say i’m hers

in history

in old law

in old English

say her great greats

owned my greatest

on this soil.

“wow,” she say

and i hold my tongue. tight. between molars.

’til it bloody and useless

’til i can’t speak

’til she don’t see me

and swallow back the blood i ain’t ask for in the first place

Daylight 6 %28roya%29

On Black Butch Representation in dayliGht

Text by Roya Marsh

Photos courtesy of Roya Marsh

  • “Roya Marsh’s debut is at turns gripping, angry, and joyful—and always powerful. I love these poems for the small wonders I find in each one. In comparing her mother’s cancer to gentrification, for example, she reveals much about both. These poems are crafted out of a love for self and for the selves that might grow when given a chance to heal. dayliGht is a revelation.”

    JOSÉ OLIVAREZ, author of the PEN/Jean Stein Award–nominated poetry collection Citizen Illegal