Spring Poetry Celebration: “Black Woman in a Bathtub, Twenty-First Century” by Nikki Wallschlaeger

Happy National Poetry Month from all of us at Copper Canyon Press! This week, we’re sharing a poem by Nikki Wallschlaeger from her new book, Waterbaby. Throughout her stunning collection, Nikki uses the element of water to embody experiences of being a Black woman in the anthropocene. Sometimes water carries grief and sometimes—as in this poem—it delivers great relief.

On May 5th, join us at a special book launch featuring Nikki reading alongside Arthur Sze, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Noah Warren, and Kelli Russell Agodon. You’ll find the link to register below.

May you find a reason to “let fly a delicious hum.”


Black Woman in a Bathtub, Twenty-First Century
by Nikki Wallschlaeger

I am a hippopotamus woman 

who’s got a date with Dr. Teal. 

Cedar and eucalyptus guiding 

the banks of my plastic tub river. 


I sink and let fly a delicious hum. 

Open my mouth to call butterflies. 

Birds use my back as a notepad, 

the children are shopping in town. 


I am a woman alone in a house. 

Bubbles and mud salve my legs. 

Downwind I hear the hippo boys, 

but it’s got nothing to do with me. 


I am a happy woman in her bath. 

I am the babysitter of all yr rivers. 

I’ll be here long after you’re gone, 

I’ll be here when it’s time to return.


Get the Book

This spring, all the books featured in our National Poetry Month series—including Waterbaby—are available as gifts when you donate to Copper Canyon Press.  Make your gift of $35 or above using the form below, and receive one or more books from our new season:

  • $35 = choose one book 
  • $50 = choose two books
  • $75 or $100 = choose three books
  • $125 or $150 = receive all five books 

Choose from these new and forthcoming poetry collections:

Thank you!

Launch Party Livestream Spring 2021

Join us Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 5:00pm PT for our spring Launch Party Livestream—an online poetry reading, benefit, and celebration of five new books from our spring season, featuring Kelli Russell Agodon, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Arthur Sze, Nikki Wallschlaeger, and Noah Warren.

Each poet will read from their new collection, and we’ll end the evening with a Q&A and opportunity to support Copper Canyon Press. Registration is free through Zoom, and all are welcome. See you there!