Black Jelly by Melanie Maria Goodreaux and Nikki Johnson presents a roaming prodigal woman tossed from a traditional sense of home who wrestles with fitting into the tidy demands of womanhood. Goodreaux is both celebratory and pained by the struggle -- giving a womanist' lens with an honest and inward female dialogue on body, bulge, singleness, childlessness, and a cavalcade of characters that carry her through the long arc of life from kitchens to nightclubs to the realities of love, relationship, and eroticism. This new book of poetry and photography is memory-specific while offering striking commentary on the "formlessness" of being a woman. It is a reflective and relatable work that explores the messiness of tremendous sadness, memory, meanness, being ghosted by loved ones, while celebrating cultural roots, married life, and imperfection.
Black Jelly is the first solo book of poetry by Melanie Maria Goodreaux merged with personal photos and select photography of Nikki Johnson. Both artists bask in African-American eccentricities while mixing emblems of southern roots, religiosity, sex, death, and transformation. The two women bring their southern roots to the work. Melanie Maria is New Orleans-born, while Nikki Johnson is from Eupora, Mississippi.
Goodreaux and Johnson were introduced to each other by the legendary Steve Cannon of A Gathering of the Tribes, called the "Father of the Lower East Side Arts movement" by The New York Times when they moved to New York City. Nikki Johnson has been a documentarian of poet and playwright Melanie Maria Goodreaux ever since, representing 20 years of New York City living, from the East Village to Harlem-- with all the art and malaise in between presented in Black Jelly.