Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson s new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African American individuals and communities, and The Cachoeira Tales, a long riff on Chaucer s Canterbury Tales. Poems include the stories of historical figures like Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy lynched in 1955, and the inhabitants of Seneca Village, an African American community razed in 1857 for the creation of Central Park. Bivouac in a Storm tells the story of a group of young soldiers, later to become known as the Tuskegee Airmen, as they trained near Biloxi, Mississippi, marching in summer heat / thick as blackstrap molasses, under trees / haunted by whippings. Later pieces range from the poet s travels in Africa, Europe, and Polynesia, to poems written in collaboration with Father Jacques de Foiard Brown, a former Benedictine monk who becomes the subject of Nelson s playful fictional fantasy sequence, Adventure-Monk Both personal and historical, these poems are grounded in quotidian detail but reach toward spiritual and moral truths.