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‘From the womb, we must repeat with regularity that to love ourselves is to survive. I believe that is what my father wanted for me and knew I would so desperately need: a tool for survival, the truth of my dignity named like a mercy new each morning.’

So writes Cole Arthur Riley in an unforgettable book of stories and reflections on discovering the sacred in her skin. In these deeply transporting pages, Cole reflects on the stories of her grandmother and father and encounters of enfleshed, embodied spirituality. As she writes memorably of her own lived experiences of childhood and selfhood, Cole boldly explores some of the most urgent questions of life and faith: How can spirituality not silence the body, but instead allow it to come alive? How do we honour, lament, and heal from the stories we inherit?

In this indelible work of contemplative storytelling, Cole Arthur Riley invites us to ponder the site of soul by examining our capacity to rest, wonder, joy, rage, and repair, and finding that our humanity is not an enemy to faith but evidence of it.

At once a compelling spiritual meditation and a tender coming-of-age narrative, This Here Flesh speaks potently to anyone who suspects that our spirit and stories might have something to say to us.


At a time when establishing peace within one's own soul is so vitally important, this book is a balm - reminding me to exercise the spiritual muscle of awe, to notice the simple and to find beauty in the ordinary.
Ben Lindsay, Author of We Need To Talk About Race
This book is an invitation into the delicate weavings of family, inheritance, and pain, how they mark a bloodline, and connect a people. Riley writes with all the grace and gravity the spirit of humanity deserves. And somehow teaches us to think of ourselves as deserving of such grace, along the way. This is the kind of book that make you different when you're done.
Ashley C. Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Somebody's Daughter
Welcome the rising of Cole Arthur Riley's astonishing voice. This is a gorgeous and muscular work.
Krista Tippett, host of On Being
Timeless. This is a book I know I will return to again and again. Through this work, I am reminded I am seen. I am reminded I am free.
Morgan Harper Nichols, artist and poet
Exquisite. . . Arthur Riley's writing is both transporting and hauntingly intimateas she narrates this important account of generational inheritance. The stories and meditations in this book are sure to stay with you forever.
Ayo Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter
Through a narrative of family and generation, Cole Arthur Riley speaks of a Blackness so beautiful it can't be contained and a liberation that is present and possible. This Here Flesh is an invitation to hold space, return home and rediscover joy.
Amena Brown, poet, author, and host of HER with Amena Brown podcast
Beautiful. Soul-stirring. . . we rediscover a sense of awe for the bodies that make us, the stories that ground us, and the delicate grace that enlivens our spirits.
Kate Bowler, New York Times bestselling author of No Cure for Being Human
This Here Flesh is a gospel to what we remember. This book is rigorous, joyous, complex, honest and tells the story of how we get free. It is a story that would not let me go.
Danté Stewart, author of SHOUTIN’ IN THE FIRE