Flawed but zealous, this thematically strong book of poetry denounces oppression.

Rain & Other Mellow Things

A collection of poems cries out against prejudice encountered by immigrants and women. 

The free verse poems and prose paragraphs in Singh’s debut book urge compassion toward those who are sexually and racially profiled. The passionate social agenda comes through most clearly in Chapter I, “Justice and Something Sweeter.” The poet vilifies racial and sexual divisions, xenophobia, and child labor. In particular, she laments women of color being forced to deny their sexuality and question their societal value: “idolized as virgins / And when lost, thrown like carcasses onto a road,” while an Asian bride “is never told / Of her worth beyond / The gold on her neck.” These feminist poems are among the volume’s finest, along with the riff on Kipling’s “If” and the prose sections in Chapter II that connect to earlier themes of racial stereotyping. For instance, the poet recalls feeling a policeman’s eyes follow her around a mall, and gives an imagined monologue from a Sikh man whose home was branded with racist graffiti. Other sequences are from the points of view of rape and domestic violence victims. In every case, Singh argues, the key to changing hateful and violent behavior is to “enlighten the oppressor.” Most of the poems are unnamed, though their closing italicized phrases might be considered either titles or envois. Chapter III, “Intricacies of the Human Mind,” is a weaker, aimless section; also, too many lines begin with “And” or “But.” Still, it contains some of the loveliest imagery, reassuring a woman that her sadness matters: “The gossamer beads of water / That travel down your cheek.…are sweeter than honey.” Elsewhere the vocabulary and sentiments can be simplistic, even clichéd, as in “The world would be a better place / If we stopped labelling people.” This perhaps reflects the author’s youth—she’s still in high school. Moreover, the collection’s title in no way suggests its contents or tone; it is more forceful than mellow, though alliteration and repetition for rhetorical effect help to soften the pitch.

Flawed but zealous, this thematically strong book of poetry denounces oppression.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-1402-7

Page Count: 102

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A volume of poetry and prose that offers heroic visions of urban African Americans.


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.

Pub Date: March 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4568-8093-4

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A nihilistic poetic remembrance that will appeal most to older teens and 20-somethings.


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.

Pub Date: May 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71806-449-2

Page Count: 143

Publisher: Nada Blank Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2018

Did you like this book?