What God Is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color (Paperback)
What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.
From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.
Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.
Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.
Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color, a young adult novel that won the Minnesota Book Award in Young People’s Literature. She is faculty in English at Minneapolis College, where she teaches writing. She has been a Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow. Her critically acclaimed novel Dream Country follows more than five generations of an African-descended family as they crisscross the Atlantic, both voluntarily and involuntarily.
Kao Kalia Yang is author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, winner of two Minnesota Book Awards and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. Her second book, The Song Poet, won a Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize.
"Pregnancy loss is a most enigmatic human sorrow, unique to every woman who suffers it. These stories of resilience, grief, and restoration are essential, for to understand is to heal."—Louise Erdrich
"What God is Honored Here? is the hardest and most important book I've read about parenting, loss, and imagination. It's also the most frightening book in my world, but not because it is horrific: it is about the terrifying possibilities of love."—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"Together these writers have created a sacred space, a temple, in which the unspeakable can be shared in a way that honors their losses and the women they are, women who endured, who fought, who lost, who grieve . . . and the individual and collective healing that can come from allowing survivors to remember. A book of astounding grace and strength."—Thi Bui, author of The Best We Could Do
"These writers have pierced the silence that too often surrounds miscarriage and infant loss, crafting hallowed stories from thoughtful, honest prose. As readers we are invited to witness the heart-mending love of mothers as they share memories of their lost babies, and in the telling offer solace in community."—Diane Wilson, author of Spirit Car and Beloved Child
"Premised on how Native women and women of color writers write about pregnancy and loss, this collection unspools from the start as a wrenching look at grief, refracted through the prism of race, religion, and class in the context of war, migration, and displacement. A unique contribution to the writings of women of color, this anthology brings together a range of women’s literary voices who write against the idea that grieving must be experienced as a solitary act. It reminds us of our resolute ties to one another and asks us to honor our experiences of joy and grief, love and pain, with story, song, and narrative."—Lan Duong, coeditor of Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora
"Pregnancy loss experienced by Native women and women of color is both alarmingly common and shamefully devalued—and even criminalized—in America today. The stories these women tell in What God Is Honored Here? offer heartbreaking insights into their pain while affirming the unbreakable bonds between them and their children. With this anthology, Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang illuminate an important yet often overlooked aspect of reproductive health, lives, and justice."—Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body
"To remember is an act of will and courage, an affirmation of hope and a dreamed-for life. These stories and poems, heart-rending and often traumatic, reveal the resilience that transcends the pain of loss. What God Is Honored Here? consecrates personal and collective sacrifice and contributes to the validation that is essential to adapt to and heal from significant loss."—Susan Gibney, founder, University of Michigan NICU Hospitals Bereavement Program and Walk to Remember, MS, LLP, RN
"A profound collection reflecting the contributors' "claim on [their] lives as indigenous women and women of color who have experienced infant and fetal loss, in its many forms." Though each piece of this collection—edited by Gibney (See No Color, 2015) and Yang (The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, 2016, etc.)—shares the common theme of infant mortality, each woman's story grips readers with its individuality and its gut-wrenching pain and sorrow. These tales of loss—from miscarriage, stillbirth, misdiagnosis, ectopic pregnancies, and sudden infant death—all carry the weight of the woman's heartbreak. They also show abundant love and the honor they felt to be pregnant, regardless of the outcome."—Kirkus Reviews
"A compelling collection that encourages readers to hold writers and their stories, both told and untold, in their hearts with every page."—Library Journal
"If you have ever miscarried, the book will rain down a million poignant memories that you may or may not be ready for. If you and your partner sailed through healthy pregnancies to produce thriving infants, the book will give you reason to thank God repeatedly for those blessings."—The Circle
"I think everyone will gain immeasurably from reading all or part of What God is Honored Here? It’s one of the most moving, passionate, painful, eye-opening, and ultimately, valuable books I’ve ever read."—Hometown Source
"I’ve read a lot of creative nonfiction but this anthology is riveting. The essays are moving. They are also poignant, edgy, down to earth. I rarely if ever comment on writing, but the essays here—I had to."—Psychology Today
"What God is Honored Here? is more than memories about the specifics of losing a child. It’s also about the loved ones who surrounded the writers, their devotion to their living children, and their family backgrounds that informed how they would deal with their ache for a child that never drew breath."—Pioneer Press
"They’re memories of an Anishinaabeg woman, a Thai refugee, a black woman with white in-laws, an Asian American woman, a wife of a Mongolian man who didn’t speak his language enough, each left with empty arms, dealing with “a tiny baby” in a way that makes sense at the end of something that makes no sense at all. Each wondering what happened, and getting answers that left them angry, stunned, satisfied that it wasn’t their “fault,” or without answers altogether. And yet — there’s hope in this book."—Caribbean Life
"This work is opening a discussion that has long shunned Native Women and Women of Color from inviting one another to learn the truth behind how grief is carried by one another."—The Corresponder
"What God Is Honored Here? is an empathetically written and edited collection of twenty-seven stories and poems of remembrance. Each woman, whether a professional author or a Mrst-time writer, contributes her voice and experience to “build bridges of hope and healing.”"—Spectrum
"Yang and others write precisely because the language we have for reproductive experience is so paltry and imprecise."—Boston Review
"This is a meditative volume—one whose various essays and poems and stories and photos can be read and reread, turned to for comfort, and turned to in anger and grief. It isn’t a volume for the faint of heart—but rather a book by, and for, the full-of-heart."—American Indian Culture and Research Journal