‘Resurrecting The Bones,’ is a poetic journey through African American churches and cemeteries

Jacinta White reads from her new book of poetry at Bookmarks on Sept. 19.

‘Resurrecting The Bones,’ is a poetic journey through African American churches and cemeteries
September 25
01:20 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

“I hope I can get through this without crying.”

That was the way Jacinta White began her talk at the launch of her newest book of poetry, “Resurrecting The Bones,” on Sept. 19 at Bookmarks. What she didn’t offer was how the audience was going to get through her readings without a tear or two.

White didn’t need to worry about people not showing up for her book launch. Family members and friends crowded into the space at Bookmarks and more chairs were brought out to accommodate the late arrivals. Family members from Uncle LeRoy, who precipitated the journey to discover the churches where her late father had preached, to her mother, brother, and cousins from as far away as Chicago, were in attendance.

White began her story at the beginning: “I met Uncle LeRoy for breakfast at Mary’s Place on Trade Street and he said, ‘I have an idea. Let’s go travel.’”

And from a simple statement, a journey began that would take her to 30 churches and cemeteries across the rural South, starting with the churches where her late father had preached. Jacinta and Uncle LeRoy would choose a church each Sunday to visit and Jacinta would write a poem that the visit inspired. The first poem in her book is entitled, “It Begins With Breakfast,” and starts out, “It begins with slow grace. Words pouring over eggs and grits, soaking up biscuits and Labor Day sun.” Her poetry is beautiful, descriptive and emotional, telling stories that quickly draw in the reader and captivate them.

In an earlier interview with the Chronicle, Jacinta related that when her father died, she started using poetry to help her through her grief. The healing process spawned The Word Project in 2001. She had moved to Atlanta and at that time was working with urban youth, using poetry to help them deal with challenges they were facing. Later she moved back to the Triad area and in 2013, she founded Snapdragon, an online literary magazine. She also facilitates workshops, including a New Year’s Day workshop at the Healing Ground retreat center in Summerfield.

In the Q&A after her reading, White talked about some of the places that inspired her poetry and related her favorite Uncle LeRoy story. During their many visits to churches, she carried a notebook to write down her thoughts. As they were visiting one church, Uncle LeRoy stood up and announced to the congregation, “We’re writing a book!”

White also noted some of the unique sayings or phrases she had heard during her visits. One in particular was “poured the preacher,” which she came to learn was when a small church didn’t have money to give to the preacher, so they gave him food instead.

When asked about the challenges she faced in writing her book, White said, “The biggest challenge is trying to be true to yourself and work, but also be creative and write poetry. It’s a struggle to find time to go away and write.”

White then added, “I want to stay true to what I feel God is asking me to do.”

“Resurrecting the Bones” is published by Press 53. Copies are available at Bookmarks and a

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