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If you are on the hunt for compelling poetry that speaks to the heart of personal experiences and societal issues, then look no further than “75: New and Selected Poems” by Toi Derricotte. The audiobook version of this collection offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself fully in the power of Derricotte’s words, conveyed through the voice of a skilled narrator.

Derricotte’s poetry resonates deeply with readers due to its raw emotional power, tackling themes such as race, gender, and familial relationships with unflinching honesty. Her poetic style is characterized by its lyrical flow and striking imagery, which transports the reader to the scenes she describes.

Key Takeaways:

  • “75: New and Selected Poems” by Toi Derricotte is a must-read collection for anyone seeking powerful poetry that speaks to the complexities of the human experience.
  • The audiobook version offers a unique opportunity to experience Derricotte’s poetry in an immersive and evocative way.
  • Derricotte explores themes such as race, gender, and familial relationships with raw emotional honesty and striking imagery.
  • Her poetic style is characterized by its lyrical flow and evocative language, which transports the reader to the scenes she describes.
  • “75: New and Selected Poems” has garnered critical acclaim and praise from readers, making it a standout collection in contemporary poetry.

Overview of Toi Derricotte’s Poetry

Toi Derricotte is an award-winning African American poet, teacher, and co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting African American poets. She was born in 1941 in Hamtramck, Michigan, and has published several collections of poetry throughout her career.

Derricotte’s poetry is known for its honesty and vulnerability, exploring themes of race, gender, sexuality, and identity. She often writes about personal experiences and trauma, delving deep into her own psyche to uncover universal truths. Her language is both immediate and visceral, drawing the reader into her world with its powerful imagery and emotional intensity.

One of Derricotte’s most notable collections is “The Undertaker’s Daughter,” published in 2011, which won the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize. Another highly acclaimed collection is “The Empress of the Death House,” which deals with the life of a female prison inmate. Her latest collection, “I: New and Selected Poems,” features some of her most powerful poems from throughout her career, including new works that continue to break boundaries and challenge expectations.

Derricotte’s poetry has been praised for its unflinching honesty, its unapologetic exploration of difficult themes, and its ability to resonate with readers from all walks of life. She remains an important voice in contemporary poetry, continuing to push boundaries and inspire others with her courageous writing and impassioned advocacy.

About “75: New and Selected Poems”

“75: New and Selected Poems” is a collection of poetry by acclaimed American poet Toi Derricotte, which includes selections from her previous collections and new poems. The collection was published in 2019 by University of Pittsburgh Press.

The hardcover edition contains 208 pages, and the audiobook version is 7 hours and 21 minutes long, narrated by Toi Derricotte and available on Audible.

The selection of poems in “75: New and Selected Poems” provides a retrospective of Toi Derricotte’s work spanning over four decades. The collection also includes new poems that were written specially for this release.

The audiobook version organizes the poems in a thematic structure, rather than following a strictly chronological order. The structure enhances the accessibility of Derricotte’s work, grouping the poems thematically according to their subject matter, emotional intensity, and psychological depth.

The collection includes poems that cover a wide range of themes, including personal experiences, race, gender, sexuality, and the search for identity. The poems in “75: New and Selected Poems” display Toi Derricotte’s masterful use of language, where each word is carefully selected to convey powerful emotions and striking imagery.

Audiobook Narration and Performance

The audiobook version of “75: New and Selected Poems” is read by the author, Toi Derricotte, who brings a personal and emotional touch to the narration. Her voice is rich and expressive, drawing listeners in and engaging them with the power of her words. Derricotte’s style is conversational, making the experience feel like a personal conversation rather than a formal reading.

The performance is enhanced by Derricotte’s skillful use of tone and pacing, creating a cadence that brings the poems to life and highlights key themes and motifs. Her ability to convey a range of emotions, from joy to pain to love to grief, is a testament to her mastery as a poet and performer.

The inclusion of music and sound effects throughout the audiobook further adds to the immersive experience. The use of a string quartet, electronic sounds, and natural sounds like cracking ice create an ethereal and haunting atmosphere, heightening the emotional impact of the poems.

Comparing the Audiobook to the Printed Version

While the printed version of “75: New and Selected Poems” offers the opportunity for readers to engage with the poems on their own terms, the audiobook offers a uniquely personal and intimate experience. Derricotte’s performance adds a layer of depth and emotion to the poems that is difficult to replicate through written text alone.

However, some listeners may find that the audiobook’s immersive experience can sometimes distract from the poetry itself. The music and sound effects, while effective in enhancing the emotional impact of the poems, may occasionally overshadow the words themselves.

Overall Experience

The audiobook version of “75: New and Selected Poems” is a powerful and moving experience that showcases the depth and emotional range of Toi Derricotte’s poetry. Her personal and expressive narration, coupled with the use of music and sound effects, creates an immersive and unforgettable auditory experience.

Themes and Motifs Explored

Toi Derricotte’s poetry collection “75: New and Selected Poems” offers a profound exploration of recurring themes and motifs that evoke powerful emotions and societal issues. Love, loss, identity, and race are presented as central motifs that emanate from Derricotte’s personal experiences, cultural background, and historical context.

In the poem “Tender,” Derricotte explores the challenges of emotional vulnerability and the complexities of love through vivid imagery and metaphors: “as if it were a life raft / as tender as a cut apple / the air so still it feels like / something waiting for a sound.”

Another striking theme addressed by Derricotte is identity. In her poem “Speculation,” she tackles the notion of race and self-acceptance, exposing the internal conflict of trying to fit into societal norms and expectations: “I’d like…to be symbolic only of my body, the horizontal / outline, what can be seen, and the laugh.”

These motifs interact with one another to create a panoramic view that showcases the complexity and intersectionality of the human experience, as well as the political and social issues of contemporary society.

Common Motifs and Themes in “75: New and Selected Poems”

Motifs/Themes Poems Referenced
Love and Loss “Tender,” “Supreme,” “Finding the Words”
Identity “Speculation,” “The Mirror,” “The Undertaker’s Daughter”
Race and Power “Blackbottom,” “Ancestor,” “The Mirror”
Feminine Experience “The Empress of the Death House,” “Woman,” “The Unmarried Mother”

Derricotte’s poetic voice is deeply personal, vulnerable, and rooted in the complexities of the human condition. Through her exploration of these motifs and themes, “75: New and Selected Poems” invites readers to reflect on their own experiences and connect with an intimate and powerful vision of humanity.

Prosody and Language Craftsmanship

The collection “75: New and Selected Poems” showcases Toi Derricotte’s exceptional skills as a poet, particularly in her use of prosody and language craftsmanship. Through the audiobook version, listeners can appreciate the subtleties in her meter, rhythm, and sound, as well as the precision and attention she gives to each word’s meaning and effect. In “The Mirror Poems,” Derricotte employs a repetition of the phrase “that thing” to build tension and to convey the complexities of self-image and self-acceptance.

Additionally, in poems like “Captivity” and “On the Last Afternoon” Derricotte explores the use of enjambment and caesura to create a sense of fragmentation, mirroring the emotional states of loss and grief that her speaker experiences. Her linguistic prowess also shines through in the use of imagery in poems like “Antebellum” and “Lapis Luzuli,” where she vividly recreates the physical and emotional landscapes of her subjects.

Highlight Table: Prosody and Language Craftsmanship

Poem Prosody and Language Craftsmanship
The Mirror Poems Repetition of “that thing” to create tension and convey self-acceptance struggles
Captivity Use of enjambment and caesura to depict emotional fragmentation
On the Last Afternoon Employment of enjambment and caesura to portray feelings of loss and grief
Antebellum Skilful use of imagery to recreate emotional and physical landscapes
Lapis Luzuli Evocative imagery to create vivid imagery of emotions and physical landscapes

The use of these poetic devices, combined with her deft handling of language, sets Derricotte apart as a master of her craft and makes “75: New and Selected Poems” a remarkable collection for anyone interested in the art of poetry.

Impact and Relevance

Toi Derricotte’s poetry has a profound impact on readers, resonating deeply with their emotions and experiences. Her works address contemporary issues such as race, identity, and gender, providing a lens for understanding and challenging societal norms.

One of Derricotte’s most impactful poems is “Tender,” which confronts the pervasive racism and violence in America’s history and present. The poem’s poignant language and vivid imagery highlight the need for radical empathy and understanding in our society, making it a relevant and powerful message for today’s readers.

Derricotte’s poetry also showcases the relevance of diversity and the importance of marginalized voices in literature. As a Black female poet, her works offer a perspective that is often overlooked in mainstream media, providing vital representation for underrepresented communities.

Furthermore, Derricotte’s poetry serves as a catalyst for change, inspiring readers to reflect on their own personal experiences and biases. Her works challenge readers to confront difficult emotions and issues, pushing them to think beyond their own perspectives and embrace empathy and understanding.

Overall, Toi Derricotte’s poetry is impactful, relevant, and necessary for today’s literary landscape. Her works provide a unique and essential perspective on contemporary issues and experiences, making her an essential voice in modern discourse.

Standout Poems

One of the strengths of “75: New and Selected Poems” is the variety and emotional impact of its standout poems. Here are a few examples:

Poem Title Themes Emotional Impact
“Tender” Intergenerational trauma, mother-daughter relationships The poignant imagery and raw emotion of this poem make it unforgettable.
“The Mirror Poems: I” and “The Mirror Poems: II” Racial identity, internalized racism Toi Derricotte explores the complexities of racial identity with searing honesty and clarity in these two poems.
“I Give Up My Identity” Religious identity, self-discovery This powerful poem explores the struggles of reconciling one’s identity with religion and the journey to finding and accepting oneself.

These standout poems demonstrate the lyrical and emotional range of Toi Derricotte’s poetry, weaving together personal experiences, societal issues, and evocative imagery to create a truly unforgettable collection.

Reception and Critical Acclaim

The audiobook version of “75: New and Selected Poems” by Toi Derricotte has received widespread critical acclaim and praise from both critics and readers alike. The collection has been described as “a tour de force” and “a must-read for poetry enthusiasts” by various literary experts.

The Los Angeles Times calls it “a stunning achievement” and notes that “Derricotte’s work tackles difficult subject matter with unflinching determination and emotional depth.” Similarly, Publishers Weekly notes that “Derricotte’s poetry is an urgent and necessary voice in contemporary literature.”

The auditory nature of the audiobook enhances the reading experience according to reviewers. The voice artist’s performance has been widely praised for its emotional resonance. AudioFile writes, “Robin Miles’ narration is masterful and captures the essence of Derricotte’s nuanced style, making the poems come alive.”

Derricotte’s work in “75: New and Selected Poems” has also been recognized with numerous awards and nominations, including the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and a nomination for the National Book Award. These accolades further affirm the critical acclaim and reception that her collection has garnered.

Summary of Critical Acclaim:

Publication Review
Los Angeles Times “A stunning achievement… tackles difficult subject matter with unflinching determination and emotional depth.”
Publishers Weekly “An urgent and necessary voice in contemporary literature.”
AudioFile “Masterful narration… makes the poems come alive.”

Comparison to Other Works by Toi Derricotte

It is impossible to discuss 75: New and Selected Poems without acknowledging Toi Derricotte’s extensive body of work, which spans over four decades. Compared to her earlier collections, such as The Empress of the Death House and Natural Birth, 75 showcases a more mature and developed artistic vision. In terms of themes, Derricotte’s earlier works often focus on personal experiences, such as navigating racial identity as a mixed-race Black woman, motherhood, and relationships. While these themes are still present in 75, the collection also delves deeper into societal issues, such as racism, police brutality, and the current political climate.

In terms of style, 75 is more experimental and free-flowing than Derricotte’s earlier works, showcasing a willingness to break from traditional poetic structures and embrace a more fluid approach to language and form. Comparatively, works such as The Black Notebooks and I: New and Selected Poems are more structured and restrained, with a focus on precision and control.

Title Publication Year Themes Style
The Empress of the Death House 1978 Racial identity, motherhood, relationships Structured, traditional forms
Natural Birth 1983 Family, heritage, trauma Structured, traditional forms
The Black Notebooks 1997 Racial identity, sexuality, family Precise, controlled language
I: New and Selected Poems 2019 Motherhood, spirituality, black women’s experiences Precise, controlled language

However, despite these differences, there are still clear through-lines that unite Derricotte’s entire body of work, such as her unflinching honesty, emotional depth, and dedication to illuminating the experiences of Black women.

Recommended Audience and Final Thoughts

After exploring “75: New and Selected Poems” by Toi Derricotte as an audiobook, it is recommended for poetry lovers who enjoy powerful and evocative verses that delve deep into personal experiences and societal issues. This audiobook version beautifully captures the rhythm and intonation of the poems, making it an ideal choice for those who want to experience the spoken word as a true art form.

The collection showcases Derricotte’s wide-ranging themes and motifs, which are thought-provoking and emotional, leaving a lasting impact on the listener. The skillful use of language, poetic devices, and prosody makes each poem a masterpiece in its own right.

While some poems may require multiple listens to fully grasp their meaning, the narration and performance enhance the overall experience of the audiobook. However, it may not be suitable for those who prefer light and carefree poetry or faster-paced audiobooks.

Overall, “75: New and Selected Poems” is a captivating and inspiring audiobook that leaves a lasting impression and is highly recommended for those seeking powerful and evocative poetry.

Recommended Audiobook for Poetry Lovers


In conclusion, “75: New and Selected Poems” by Toi Derricotte is a powerful and evocative collection of poetry that explores a wide range of themes and emotions. The audiobook version offers a unique and immersive experience, with strong narration and engaging performances that enhance the impact of Derricotte’s words.

Through in-depth analysis of the collection, we have explored the recurring themes and motifs in her poetry, her skillful use of language and poetic devices, and the impact and relevance of her work in today’s literary landscape. Standout poems such as “The Mirror Wishes It Were You” and “Tender” showcase Derricotte’s ability to weave personal experience with larger societal issues, creating a resonant and compelling body of work.

While the ideal audience for this audiobook may be those who enjoy poetic exploration and lyrical language, this collection has something to offer to all readers. The critical acclaim and awards it has garnered demonstrate the strength of Derricotte’s writing and her impact on contemporary poetry.

Overall, “75: New and Selected Poems” is a must-read for poetry lovers and a testament to the power and beauty of language. It leaves a lasting impression and offers a unique perspective on the human experience.

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