A strong poet is perceptive, eloquent, and thoughtful—and Osmani is three for three.




By turns religious, romantic, and political, this collection shows readers a skilled poet coming into his own.

Osmani (In the Footsteps of Rumi…, 2013, etc.) has published three previous volumes of verse, but in this one, he shows further maturation as a writer, and it’s a delight to watch. Among his talents is an ability to strike a delicate balance between humor and tragedy; few poets can do so without making the laughs feel impertinent and the grief feel insubstantial, but Osmani does. In “Smart Bombs,” for example, he offers a darkly comic description of “precision-guided munitions” that “ring door-bells wherever they go. / Standing by politely, respectfully, / as women and children stream out.” The fact that the exact opposite is true only makes the “joke” hit harder. “Guantanamo Blues” is a touching, tactful tribute to prisoners of the war on terror who’ve gone so long without freedom and without trial. It also shows readers the poet’s political side, which he only shows occasionally but to great effect. “Countries Are Corporations, My Friend,” for example, tweaks former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney while lamenting the nationalism that divides people. “Drone Open Season” effectively captures the moral tensions that this newest form of warfare provokes: “Can’t catch them alive; / a dilemma if they survive.” The bulk of this slim volume, though, touches on spiritual and ethical topics. In one of the best poems, the clever “0 for 3,” Osmani writes humbly and succinctly of the American culture’s skewed value system: “In a culture that values / wealth, looks and youth, / I am 0 for 3. /… / In a society that fosters / greed, cunningness, and arrogance, / I am 0 for 3.” Perhaps the only small snag in this otherwise accomplished work is the author’s use of the word “Sufiesque” to describe it. Sufism is a popular, mystical form of Islam that has produced some of the most influential, most read poets in the world, among them Rumi and Attar. In his introduction, Osmani defines Sufism in terms of “its tradition of viewing human existence in a much wider context than what can be encompassed by ritualistic dogma.” He casts an awfully wide net with this description, and it’s difficult to see what is Sufi—much less “Sufiesque”—about much of this collection. However, the way a poet labels his own work doesn’t matter much if that poetry is good, and Osmani’s is.

A strong poet is perceptive, eloquent, and thoughtful—and Osmani is three for three.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1502887382

Page Count: 102

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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

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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

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