From DerRon Holloway, an emotional poetry debut that tackles a hodgepodge of subjects.
In this opus comprising six poetry collections, DerRon Holloway expounds on love, nostalgia, grief, Southern culture, music, and religion. In a style sometimes intimate and tactile and other times political and blunt, the poet employs primarily free-verse form with the occasional prose poem, haiku, sonnet, ode, or couplet. In love poems pregnant with desire and contradictions, he asks, “If kissing a dream means the dream would end... / Would you kiss me or dream our dream again?” When he segues into nostalgia, he recounts a poor childhood of lazy summer afternoons, putting on “Our Sunday’s best,” and sharing bathwater. These personal reminiscences give way to pondering societal shifts. Music is a recurring theme, and the poet often laments the ways the art form has changed. Indeed, some of these poems read like song lyrics: “And if they told me we were doomed from the start / I’d turn to you and say… / I know / But I want you anyway.” The poet’s strengths are in the erotic and the nostalgic, like a wilderness tryst where “bare torsos glisten in a rippling shimmer.” But as the 300-plus pages drag on, the work turns preachy. “Heavy Palms” is a public service announcement–sounding poem based on domestic violence statistics. A series of religious poems devolve into all-caps rants akin to a Bible-thumper shouting on a street corner: “He is SOVEREIGN! / His name is GOD! / AND THERE IS ONLY ONE!!! / PRAISE GOD!” Sexual abuse is treated indelicately in lines like “Protected since I was molested / And that was at the age of six / And I’ve been sexing ever since.” Ultimately, there’s too much political and religious soapbox and not enough touching detail.
A mammoth poetry debut that tries to be too many things simultaneously.