From Bane, a debut collection of emotional love poems.
Over the course of more than 200 pages of poems, arranged alphabetically, the narrator professes enamored feelings for a beloved, expresses gratitude for the love they share, and details the ache of absence. These devotional love poems are written in first-person rhyming quatrains with a hypnotic, rhythmic quality. In an idyllic, magical landscape bordered by waves and home to rainbows and moonbeams, the beloved is compared to many forms: a star, an angel, a missing puzzle piece, a rose: “In the distance is the sunset, / Colored in pastels of red and blue. / This mystery on the horizon / Made me think of loving you.” This bubble of romantic enchantment is a world where dancing is encouraged, memories are always good, and a pot of gold is discovered in every kiss. The love felt by the narrator and the beloved is a fated and forever love. “Fate brought us together / When we never expected to be. / A kiss so tender on a blissful night— / The beginning of you and me,” begins the poem “Forever Us.” In this space, love conquers all and is the key to unlocking new blessings daily. Spirituality also plays a role, and God makes frequent appearances: “The treasure in every day / Is to cherish all that’s real: / The touch of God within us / And His blessings that we feel.” As familiar as this lovey-dovey language will be to anyone who has fallen hard for a seemingly perfect partner, the repetitive nature of the rhyming scheme and the constant recurrence of the same symbols (heaven’s door, rainbows, sunshine, dreams) grow tiresome. These are trite poems with little of the grit and sacrifice and scars inherent in love lived in reality. Excellent physical descriptions—“Your coat is woven with golden threads / From strands of angel’s hair,”—are the highlights of the collection.
A seemingly endless book of nearly identical poems on romantic idealism.
A debut multigenre collection of short pieces presents vignettes focusing on the lives of African Americans from a variety of perspectives, both real and fanciful.
This eclectic anthology begins with an autobiographical sketch, “P Is for Pride and Perseverance,” in which King traces his early years from his 1979 birth to a 16-year-old mother to his incarceration for attempted robbery and his subsequent determination to do something positive with his life. “Baby Girl” reprises the story of King’s birth from his mother’s point of view, a girl whose teen pregnancy seems predestined by both her grandmother’s clairvoyant dreams and her own limited expectations. Other narratives are linked by shared characters, such as “Posse Up, Ladies First!” and “Thug Angel,” which provide somewhat idealized portraits of street gangs as building blocks of the black community. “Battle Kats” is an SF work about a group of humanoid felines from another planet who work undercover to defend Earth and its alien allies. The central section of the book is occupied by a collection of 21 poems. Some, like “Hold on to Love” and “Away From Home,” focus on romance while others, such as “The Rent Is Too Damn High!” and “Blockstars,” illuminate the experiences of working-class African Americans in inner-city neighborhoods. “Remember Me?” calls up the spirit of LaTasha Harlins, a young black woman shot by a Los Angeles shop owner in the early ’90s, speculating “I wonder what you could have been LaTasha?” King’s efforts to describe his personal struggles and the vibrant characters who populate impoverished black communities are ambitious and dynamic. His prose narratives are too short to feel really complete, but they deliver glimpses into a world mainly familiar to the urban poor, where drug dealing is one of the few available career choices, incarceration is a rite of passage, and street gangs view themselves as community leaders. While the author does have a tendency to romanticize life on the street, as in “Posse Up,” in which a girl gang maintains a strict “code of principles,” his writing presents a vision of what could happen if people worked to “play a part in the improvement of the community.”
A volume of poetry and prose that offers heroic visions of urban African Americans.
Davis recounts the confounding pressures of his 1990s childhood in this debut memoir-in-verse.
When telling the story of your life, one might as well start at the very beginning. That’s exactly what the author does in this memoir, which he describes as “a thing like a very long lie to yourself.” Specifically, he tells of how “The White-Gloved Sheriff / kicked in the door / and / Pulled me” from his mother (whom he calls his “Supervisor”; he later calls her “the Computer Science Major,” “the Waitress,” and other occupational names). Unusually, he had horns and a lot of hair at birth, he says. He was immediately at odds with the people and other living things around him—his parents, his brothers, his family dog. As a toddler, he created an imaginary world for himself known as “FU,” which was “Filled with things that looked like me / And where things made sense / I was King.” His earliest years were characterized by horrible discoveries (school work, isolation, crushes, problems in his parents’ marriage), but his teen years proved to be an even greater series of highs and lows, involving confusion over geopolitical events, friends, computers, pornography, and marijuana. Like a novice who can’t quite figure out the rules of a game, Davis bumbles forward—all horns and fur and misunderstanding—inadvertently angering authority figures as he seeks an adequate method of self-expression. The poem is composed in short, direct lines, enjambed to emphasize particular words or phrases rather than establish a consistent overall rhythm. Davis’ idiolect is inventive in its names for things (siblings are “life partners,” pets are “prisoners,” teachers are “Part-Time Supervisors,” and so on), and his outsider’s observations of society are shrewd and often funny. However, the combination of snark and self-seriousness causes some poems to come off as petulant and cloying; as a result, it’s difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 22 finding the work emotionally affecting. Even so, the tone and style, coupled with debut artist Klimov’s truly engaging black-and-white illustrations should captivate readers of a certain anarchic mindset.
A nihilistic poetic remembrance that will appeal most to older teens and 20-somethings.