charlotte watson sherman

photo: Phil Borges

Essence Bestseller

"A page-turner with heart and a vital message." -Toi Derricotte, author of Captivity

"Charlotte Watson Sherman is an award-winning author who already has proven herself to be a writer of great gifts....In One Dark Body, her first novel, Sherman displays the same power of metaphor and turn of phrase that have made her poetry and short fiction so engaging....Sherman has undertaken important work in One Dark Body. She has tried to convey the timely message that even the deepest wounds can be healed if we draw on our African cultural and spiritual traditions." --Women's Review of Books

"Sherman's elaborate, spectral imagery and lyrical phrases carry the characters in One Dark Body through their necessary journeys and leave them with hope and peace." --Chicago Daily Defender

"Novels that take readers into worlds they have only glimpsed briefly, through a door slightly ajar, through a torn window curtain, through an unguarded exchange, are rare gifts. They can sometimes leave readers breathless, feeling on the brink of discovery unexplored by most people. That is how One Dark Body, Charlotte Watson Sherman's ambitious first novel, leaves the reader feeling, as if she had glimpsed a sliver of a fascinating world dusted with magic." --Los Angeles Times

"Lyrical and infused with magic, and those who believe there is more to life than what we see, hear or touch will enjoy it." --San Francisco Chronicle

"This novel explores the characters' need for an unbroken connection between their African ancestors, and their present African-American relations....The evocative language and empathetic characterizations found in One Dark Body are a fitting sequel to Killing Color, the author's collection of short stories." --Richmond Times-Dispatch


...Do not

try to make me

ashamed of this

fact, sorry my hair

grows in dry tight

cottonfields on my

head and will not

fly in the wind

like the woman

I am not.

#9 of the 40th Anniversary Portfolio: Our 40 Favorite Poets

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January 13, 1994

I wish I believed in Circe's God. Wish I could fall down on my knees and pray, pull from that disintegrating well of Negro spirituals, get happy, throw up my arms and run through the streets of this city with my skirt hiked above my knees, crying out in this wilderness of isolation and death.

Wish I could look into the darkness of my future standing atop the bones of the believers, the seers, those who can heal with their hands, can make my flesh whole with their tears, the comforting holy water of their tears.

I wish I could stand in the center of the world surrounded by a gospel choir in golden robes, the resolve in their faces lifting me up in the arms of their belief, their voices rising like saviors to the heavens. I wish I could turn this sorrow into a blessing. I wish when I looked inside the hollow of my spirit, a starling of hope would rise inside me fluttering for the first time up through the bitterness of my soul breaking it down into something sweet like hope like forgiveness like salvation.

I wish I could feel anything other than the emptiness I feel when I think about my spirit and ask God, why me?

One Dark Body

Raisin 1963

This a funny place. Maybe cause of the mountain standing up behind our town watching like a big old eye. Or maybe it's that lake stretching way out, reaching black to black, pushing its way cross the earth like it's in a hurry to run away from here. Or maybe it's that twisted-trunk, yellow-leaf tree next to Blue-the-wanga-man's house, with the leaves that shine like gold lamps through the trees, day or night.
But some folks say no, it's not that mountain sitting back watching over us, and it's not that black lake reaching, and it's not that old white-trunked, yellow-tipped tree next to Blue's that Reverend Daniles swears covers a hole leading from this world to the next. The thing that makes Pearl a funny kind of place is all that whispering we hear coming up from the ground.

Tales of identity, initiation, spirits, love, and loss spun beneath the Tree of Remembrance.

Killing Color
from Cateye

This was sacred ground. And somethin in the land called out to Nathan Honeywood soon as he stepped his broken-soled, heavy brown shoes down from that train.
Somethin liquid and light as air snaked its way from his soles, round his ankles, and up into the muscles of his calves. It wiggled up his thighs and tickled his groin, makin him wanna laugh, but he wouldn't cause he didn't want folks to take no notice of a big black man laughin and holdin his privates. So he let the chuckle stay and started walkin.

And the light liquid thing walked right with him: past the bustle of town, the friendly shouts of merhants, past the fabrics displayed in windows reflectin Nathan's smile, past the smell of hot bread bakin and fresh vegetables spread on tables, and still Nathan walked.
The liquid light rose from his navel and drifted into his chest. Nathan walked by vacant lots and leanin shacks. He hadn't seen this much green since he left Mississippi. And trees! Everywhere he looked there was a tree reachin for the silver sky. And he could smell salt water in the air.

Nathan and the light thing walked till he saw other brown faces with eyes that looked like they knew where he'd been and just how long the road had been to get here.

The thing in him rose into his throat like a thick ball of fog and his eyes watered and he started whisperin, "O way o way, o way, o wayo," even though he didn't know what he was sayin. The thing in the land knew Nathan was home.

Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry

Daughters by Jackie Warren-Moore

I find myself there. Waiting and laughing. Holding hands

with my daughter. Loving her as I never loved myself.

Little girl laughter in threes.

Old self.

New self.


We are three.

We are one.

Splashing water that falls in triangles against soft

brown skin.

Shadows form as I prepare to leave.

I am reluctant to leave them there.

We join hands--old self, new self, daughter.

Skipping home.