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Lions Don't Eat Us


Constance Quarterman Bridges


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The winner of the 2005 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Lions Don't Eat Us introduces a fierce and wise new voice

There's nothing to be afraid of.
Don't ever let boys kiss you.
Be nice. One day you'll get married.
Keep your legs closed. Dance.
—from "Grandmother Said"

In one of Aesop's Fables, the Roman slave Androcles befriends the emperor's lion prior to his trial and thereby survives certain death in the arena. Constance Quarterman Bridges's father tells this story to his children and says, "My Babies, we're special people, lions don't eat us." In this remarkable debut collection, Bridges chronicles her ancestry—part born out of slavery, part descended from Cherokee heritage—from her great-grandparents "jumping over the broom" in Civil War Virginia to her father's journey in the Great Migration northward in 1916. The result is an unequivocally American story.

Lions Don't Eat Us is the 2005 winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, given to the best first collection by an African-American poet.

Praise For Lions Don't Eat Us: Poems

“These poems radiate a tough-minded herstory/history that demands that we investigate, listen to, dance within, and defend their beauty.” —Sonia Sanchez

Graywolf Press, 9781555974541, 80pp.

Publication Date: September 19, 2006

About the Author

CONSTANCE QUARTERMAN BRIDGES retired from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 1987. She has won two fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.