In August of 1955, Emmett Till was killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. He was 14. A Wreath for Emmett Till aims to capture some of the emotions of the time through images and poetry – specifically sonnets. A Wreath for Emmett Till is written in a crown of sonnets – a collection of 15 sonnets where the last line of one poem is the first line of the next poem. The fifteenth sonnet is made up of all those repeated lines. While this text is short, the feelings evoked are powerful.
I picked this one up because I was looking for books that captured some of the emotion of the atrocities visited on Black people historically. This came from a growing irritation with students (none of them African American themselves) who use “the n-word” without really knowing its history.