DeMisty Bellinger

Particular Heritage

Particular Heritage is a work that seamlessly weaves the past and present together. Beginning with the enslavement of the African people, moving through the civil rights movement and concluding at today’s protests, Bellinger uses poetry to describe the resilience and beauty of her own Particular Heritage. The titular poem is also the first poem of the collection. In “Particular Heritage,” Bellinger writes: “if you see her as livestock,/would that make it harder to/ take her?” The very next poem, “Tituba,” follows up with the lines: “I don’t care for the tea or the way you speak, the/ Way you don’t sing.” There is a juxtaposition here, one that is reinforced throughout Particular Heritage: how others see the persona versus how the persona views others.

In her section “Lunar Landing,” a microchapbook within the larger work, Bellinger details the escape from slavery to freedom side by side with the cycles of the moon. In “Waxing Crescent,” the person expresses: “Blood from barbed plants will always line/ my legs.” The journey to emancipation is long, and, as revealed in “June 19, 1865,” should have already been achieved for the persona. Bellinger writes: “for two years major general granger says, we been free/ (…) I’m still walking”. Despite having arrived at her destination. at supposed freedom, the persona does not know how to stop moving forward, for better or for worse. The question is asked and pondered: how to move past and through such a life? How to reconcile such a heritage within a still troubled modern world?

Towards the end of Particular Heritage, Bellinger includes a section of “Protest Poems.” Bellinger ponders protest as a movement, its effectiveness and its shortcomings. “II (Peaceful)” ponders whether things would be different if famous nonviolent figures (like Jesus and MLK) had decided to reflect the violence thrust upon them: “Would that have mattered?” The very next poem, titled “III. (Ontology of),” ends with the question: “and worry if/ (…) -this is enough?”

Particular Heritage examines how history can shape the present and how change is created and upheld. Every part of Particular Heritage is an ode to bravery, to rebellion, to life itself. You can preorder a copy (released August 17th) from Mason Jar Press here:

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