Willow Books will release the latest collection by devorah major, San Francisco's Third Poet Laureate. The book, califia's daughter, chronicles the African story of Queen Califia and the founding of the State of California.
"The state of California was named after Queen Califia. It is said that Africans came across sea currents to arrive in South America and then moved east and west through Mexico and around the gulf settling in the south, mixing blood and dance, color and culture with the people of the corn. Cortez’s crew of six hundred held two hundred Africans who worked its sails, cleaned its decks and sometimes served as interpreters. Because of this, Cortez thought that Africans populated this part of the world too. He named this land California, the isle of Queen Califia.
But where did he get the name? It is believed by some that the legend of Califia was initially formed by seafaring Kalifuna Mandinka who arrived in the new world before Columbus. African Moors who traded and sailed with their Mandinka brethren brought the tale of Calfia to Spain where, around 1510, (pulp) novelist Garcia Rodríguez de Montalvo in Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Adventures of Esplandian) refashioned the tale of a compassionate, fearless, and beautiful African Amazon queen living on a steep, rocky-cliff, gold-rich island. With Queen Califia were fierce and able female subjects, hundreds of griffins, wild beasts harnessed in gold, and occasional visiting (or captured) men. Some also assert that California once held a vast inland lake, and appeared to be an island for hundreds of years, and that during this time it was explored by a few of these early Kalifuna Mandika voyagers, and that it is, in fact, the actual land of the Califia myth." —devorah major
“This is a book of wisdom and whimsy, of mythology sprinkled with stardust. Every poem is a journey into a new desire fleshed out of history’s nightmares and our ancestors’ dreams. This is a devorah major Archana. Those who read tarot will know the power the Archana holds and how they govern. These poems rule a space between history and sea, relativity and dark matters, wombs and weaponry. I will pass these poems around at parties like hors d’oeuvres and tightly rolled joints. Some because they are delicious, others because they alter the state of consciousness. major is a free woman who wrote her own freedom papers in her own blood. Not beholden to some dead and despised rule book of ‘shoulda’ and ‘should nots,’ these poems speak a truth through art without the artifice of linguistic filigree in service to a valueless pedigree. Let these poems wash over you like sea foam and angels’ whispers. They are light and prickly and sweet and sacred. Savor and inhale them all.”
Toni Asante Lightfoot, Host, Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards
califia's daughter by devorah major (July 2020)
Willow Books, a Division of Aquarius Press