This debut collection of uninhibited, narrative-driven poetry tackles expansive contemporary notions of black womanhood.
Shepsa’s energetic poems are passionately written and saturated with pop-cultural, historical and mythological references. The book is divided into three sections—“Honey,” “Full Moons” and “Daggers”—and the author explains her relation to these themes with the simple declaration: “I am warrior, mother and lover.” “Honey” covers love and desire; “Full Moons” faces issues of lineage, cultural heritage and motherhood; and “Daggers” deals with racial and cultural injustice and misperception across space and time. The author’s graphic diction spreads across short, spitfire lines in these prose poems. Shepsa’s voice is strongest in “Honey,” with poem titles like “Letters to My Man (for tonight)” and “I AM Goddess.” Her messages of strength, sexual agency and fantasy extend throughout the work. At times, these themes overpower individual poems’ content; the words “thighs” and “thunder,” usually pertaining to the physical act of love, are repeated often, muddling more subtle nuances of femininity and sexuality. In “Inspired,” Shepsa provides examples that can either be impactful or overwhelming: “I think you are Joplin / or Hendrix / or Baldwin / call me Zora / or Josephine / or Nina / let’s make a Renaissance.” “My LOVE” summarizes the spirit and tone of all 14 poems in the first and longest section: “that unleashes coiled serpents / as dangerous as acid / that electrifies the brain // my love is a / rare and sacred orchid.” Throughout the work, Yoruba, Egyptian, Anglo-Saxon, Senegalese, Greek, Hindu and Haitian mythology figure prominently—mostly love gods and goddesses and sexualized symbols, typically provided without context. In parts 2 and 3, “Supernatural” and “Generations” stand out with their amalgamations of African diaspora concerns.
Powerful poems for erudite readers.