Our Prairie Seed Poetry Prize winner is a collection entitled: The Swagger of Dorothy Gale and Other Filthy Ways to Strut by Sea Sharp.
A visceral and sonic world of teeth and tornadoes, Sea Sharp’s The Swagger of Dorothy Gale explores a Midwestern past muddied by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fantasy and the realities of women and African Americans on the prairie. Sharp re-imagines Dorothy as a girl with “some grit in her teeth” as she navigates Kansas, examining “marvelous gray ghosts in the heartland” through personal and communal narratives that romp and strut across the lines. Satirical and poignant, The Swagger of Dorothy Gale startles and swirls contemporary issues of race, equality, and place in the dusty plains of Kansas, seeking to understand the real meaning of “there’s no place like home.”
Praise for The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut
“We dance with Sea Sharp in between the pages of this book and we are left spent and more realized by an ability to conjure such raw and unshakeable truths. We turn every which way, but loose, because Sea catches us up by expertly conducting gale forces. We turn each page to understand what it means to be the loneliest black girl in all of Kansas or what it is like to burn bright ‘like the holy hallelujah of the sun.’ We twist, because there’s so much to witness when Dorothy is re-imagined and recreated as black, really black. She struts and we follow, because there’s so much to learn about Sharp’s Kansas. Sea imagistically swaggers and deftly leads us with wit. The choreography of wind, rain turned raging storm is brilliant in The Swagger of Dorothy Gale and Other Filthy Ways to Strut.”—Glenis Redmond, author, What My Hand Say
“A kind of postmodern country ballad, but realer and more fun, The Swagger of Dorothy Gale croons. Sea Sharp explores the many costumes and under-costumes that make up identity in the Midwest, writing, for example, ‘I was a rodeo (I am a rodeo),’ tracing not exactly the geography of our bodies but instead the geographies that our bodies can’t help but be a part of. I mean, this book has it all: heart, imagination, and a good ear for the music we too often forget.”
—Michael Mlekoday, author, The Dead Eat Everything
“‘Dorothy Gale was really a black girl,’” writes Sea Sharp in this revisionist view of the Wizard of Oz family. This first book of poetry upends stereotypes of the American Midwest with swashbuckling language that delights as it informs and overcomes.”—Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09; author, The Turtle’s Beating Heart
“Sea Sharp’s opening epigraph, ‘Cause magic won’t work in Kansas,’ spoken by Frank Baum’s Dorothy Gale of Wizard of Oz fame, prepares the reader for a harrowing journey through a Kansas landscape—the Konza Prairie in flames, deadly twisters, sunflower fields, cottonwood trees—where ‘Dorothy Gale was really a black girl,’ and everyone is born ‘with a bible belt wrapped around [their] necks.’ Yet Sharp’s book works its own magic on the reader, particularly in the penultimate poem, ‘Slippers on the Shelf,’ in which the opening lines, ‘I, too have seen the gold of November sunsets’ places Sharp in the tradition of Whitman, of Hughes, singing America. Sharp’s The Swagger of Dorothy Gale, puts Kansas, long dismissed as a flyover state, on our literary and emotional maps.—Donna L. Potts, Professor, Chair, Creative Writing Committee, Department of English, Washington State University
“Sea Sharp arrives just in time as an original, vibrant, and important voice. Their poetry in this debut collection The Swagger of Dorothy Gales & Other Filthy Ways to Strut gives voice—through re-imaging and deeply questioning the myths at the heart of one of America’s most iconic stories—to history and politics, especially related to African-American women as well as prairie rhythms and dangers. All the time, they write with great music, a genius for dialogue and image, sharp critiques and bright wit, and in ways utterly powerful and tender.”—Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Poet Laureate of Kansas, author, Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempest, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image
“Did you think you knew Kansas? Did you think it was Metro-Goldwyn-Myer, the Oregon Technicolor trail or bust? Nope. Black-and-white, degrees of gray, and the power of shoes and the dancing, strutting, bullshit-stomping, culture-journeying feet that can wear them or take them right off—Sea Sharp’s buoyant poems kick at the margins and don’t care if the roof comes down. By turns insouciant, clairvoyant, ansty and pissed-off, this collection sings, shouts, and shouts-out. Be sure to listen.”—Elizabeth Dodd, University Distinguished Professor, Kansas State University
“With uncontainable joy I ask the literary world to celebrate with me this striking debut collection of poetry from emerging author Sea Sharp. In The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut, poet, naturalist, revisionist-self-exiled Midwesterner Sea Sharp harvests a bounty of language that allows the reader to sing with the cicadas, dance with sonic dexterity, rise with the corn, proclaim the vernacular as song and hymn. This collection will, quite frankly, ‘Knock your breaths out.’ Behold, a monument of new American poetry.”—Xavier Cavazos, author, Diamond Grove Slave Tree and Barbarian at the Gate
“Sea Sharp creates a surrealistic world in which the reader can ride the back of a twister and the sky becomes your momma. Imagination and the use of phonetically sound language become the sharpest weapon, as this collection attempts to survive and cope with the hardships of racism, stereotypes, and poverty. Sharp’s poems give Dorothy from Kansas a necessary and relevant makeover!”—Karla Cordero, Editor and Co-founder of SpitJournal.com
Sea Sharp is a Pushcart Prize winner (2017), a Hammer and Tongue poetry slam finalist (Brighton, 2015/16), and Prairie Seed Poetry Prize winner (2015/16). They are a Kansas State University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Literature and minor degrees in Theatre and also Women’s Studies. Sharp was the first poet featured on the Black Vegans Rock website (launched in 2016). They are passionate about intersectional veganism, black feminism, and other social movements that actively work towards empowering marginalised people, whilst dismantling all forms of oppression.
Sharp is Afro-Native American, LGBTQ+, a self-proclaimed “refugee of Kansas,” and also a naturalised British citizen who lives in East Sussex with their husband.
Please visit Sea Sharp’s website: www.seathepoet.com or follow them on most social media: @SeaThePoet