Kris Godspeed Amos is a poet from the west side of Detroit, MI. He began writing poetry at the age of eleven and has continued to develop in his craft. His poetry is influenced by the music of artists such as Tupac Shakur, Eminem, and DMX. Amos's style of writing reflects the lyrics of early hip-hop artists that spoke about pain, struggle, and the difficulty they faced while navigating life.
Amos's first book of poetry, "The Embryo of my Manhood", in 2014. He followed this up with the second edition of the book in 2016, which was referred to as an "elegant, powerful volume" of poetry by Kirkus Reviews (2016).
Amos continued to write after publishing his work and is now exploring his art through music. His academic, career, and social experiences encouraged him to reflect further on his life, which influenced his follow-up book, "Are you Ready to Love Yourself a Black Man" (2019).
Readers who love Hip-hop music but are turned away from poetry can use Amos's poems as a bridge between the two genres.
“The line between rap and poetry has always been unclear, and lyrical masterpieces recently produced by Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and Eminem have only blurred it further. In this volume of poetry, Amos plays quite productively in the space between these two art forms.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Bigotry and emotional trauma scar African Americans and their relationships in these poems.
Amos’ blunt language probes racism’s legacy in the minds and hearts of Black men and their loved ones. In the title poem, he notes “the stereotypes linked to the sequences of our genes” that leave Black people “programmed to not love ourselves” while in “Black Deficiency,” he challenges White society to confront its culpability, asking “will you continue to be implicit / in your reinforcement of a supremacist system?” In “Masculinity so Fragile,” he explores how Black men’s insecurities spill over into the mistreatment of women: “Lying. / Cheating. / Using, and abusing, / and yet she still manages / to support us / despite our habits. / Why are belittling names used to identify her social / status?” Probing deeper, “To Be Heard” calls out the conflation of emotional expressivity with unmanliness—“Listen to me complain like a / ‘punk’, / ‘wimp’, / or other suggestive terms / that describe my ‘weakened state’ ”—and extols the possibility that “Love is genderless, / Pure, / Divine.” Several poems plumb the complexities of romance. In the luminous “Synthesis,” love is as foundational as physics—“You’ve become the gravity to my soul / …Our wavelengths intersect for the creation of a new spectrum”—while the plangent “Restrained” charts a drift into mutual incomprehension. “We were once on the same page, / The same sentence, / The same word; /…Then we parted paragraphs, / Sheets, / And now we’re no longer in the same genre.” The author’s depression poems, like the suicidal “Break Up,” get very bleak indeed—“I saw death approaching, / It turned the other way. / I initiated the pursuit, / and now we’re in a chase”—but he recovers a purpose, fatherhood, in “Nothing Else Matters.” “When I was 19... / I was shedding tears because you weren’t born yet, / too eager and desperate to meet up with you.” Amos’ searing verse is direct and plainspoken but studded with incisive metaphors. His critique of racism can be strident at times, but his confessional poems, like “Mechanism of Injury”—“Every time I restructure myself, I get broken and / separated. / I don’t know if I will make it. / Ashamed. / Vulnerable. / Naked”—have a gripping rawness that will resonate with any reader.
Intense, intimate, self-lacerating poetry about unhealed social and psychic wounds.
Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Unsolicited Press
Review Posted Online: May 27, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020
Amos (The Embryo of My Manhood: First Edition, 2014) offers a new collection of poetry, influenced by rap.
The line between rap and poetry has always been unclear, and lyrical masterpieces recently produced by Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and Eminem have only blurred it further. In this volume of poetry, Amos plays quite productively in the space between these two art forms. In “Genocide,” he writes, “My style of teaching is similar to Tupac and other great lyricists.” But perhaps a more obvious influence is a fellow Detroiter: “My favorite rapper was Eminem,” the author adds. Eminem is relentless with his rhymes; in older songs like “Stan” and newer pieces like “Survival,” the rapper doesn’t let artificial schemes determine the number of his rhymes. He will stop when he’s good and ready. Amos is similarly (and admirably) persistent. Readers see his doggedness in poems like “Flatline”: “I can’t save you. / I wasn’t given the utensils to open society’s wound and surgically remove its / stereotypical labels. / I can, however, persuade you / To loan me your ears as I defer the repayment of the loan, and the interest / alone can make you ethically stable. / These words will aide [sic] you, if you’re able.” There’s a brilliance to this long linkage that moves from “save you” to “persuade you” to “aid you”—and then assonantly shifts to “stable” and “able.” There’s no similar thematic throughline in this book as a whole, as the author himself admits: “bear with me as I do a little sorting.” But whatever the collection lacks in polish, it makes up for in drive and thrill. Amos takes on desultory topics, from his dad’s absence in “No Fatherly Image” to sex in “The Big Bang Theory” to race and racism in “Black Privilege.” And he ends his elegant, powerful volume with arguably his best poem, “Imperfect.” That piece concludes, “And me? / I have a great family, a full stomach, an education, and an abundance of / support, / And apparently // I have the nerve to be complaining.” Amos can complain, but readers likely won’t. This is fine stuff.
With this invigorating torrent of words, the author should leave readers energized and inspired.
Page count: 68pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016
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