Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BOY by Donny Jackson Kirkus Star



by Donny Jackson

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-945681-42-4
Publisher: Silver Star Laboratory

A debut collection of poetry that stares down racial injustice and demands immediate change.

These 55 poems unearth the emotion beneath the surface of media reportage. In an eponymous work about Kalief Browder, a Black youth who was held in jail for two years without trial and later committed suicide, the poet pinpoints the 16-year-old’s echoing loneliness and sense of uncertainty: “i am in an alone / 23 hours a day / while they are waiting to see / if i am a guilty.” Meanwhile, in the poem “train,” about the 2016 rape trial of Stanford University student Brock Turner, Jackson writes from the perspective of sexual assault survivor Chanel Miller, known during the case as “Emily Doe”: “i cannot yet forgive my thighs for not becoming jaws and / crushing his thrust into powder.” Other poems address police brutality and the murders of trans women. Jackson’s poetry is devastating in its minimalism; for instance, in “mckinney,” he deftly communicates the shocking absurdity of the violent 2015 arrest of Dajerria Becton: “how dare you know to tell that officer / he’s hurting you / for attacking him / with minding your own business.” Similarly, in “jasmine,” a poem about “cowboys” defending their “territory” against the unwanted arrival of Muslim neighbors, he writes: “a gun is a fist for a man with weak hands and dead words.” In poems about victims, such as Kerrice Lewis, a Black lesbian who was shot and burned alive in 2017, Jackson urges readers to repeat the names of Black lives taken unjustly. The poet’s words cut down oppressors with swiftness and vigor, and they’ll remain with readers long after they finish the book.

Powerful, stirring writing.