“The Venus Hottentot” (by Elizabeth Alexander)

A poem by Elizabeth Alexander looking into the consciousnesses of Saartjie Baartman, the “Venus Hottentot”–a black woman from Africa who was displayed as a “freak” and later dissected by white European scientists, and of one of those scientists.

A stanza:


There is unexpected sun today

in London, and the clouds that

most days sift into this cage

where I am working have dispersed.

I am a black cutout against

a captive blue sky, pivoting

nude so the paying audience

can view my naked buttocks.


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April 4, 2013 · 10:58 am

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