Book Review: How to Love a Country by Richard Blanco

htlacHow to Love a Country by Richard Blanco
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 112
Source: Library
Date Read: June 2, 2019
Grade: B-
Synopsis: 
As presidential inaugural poet, memoirist, public speaker, educator, and advocate, Richard Blanco has crisscrossed the nation inviting communities to connect to the heart of human experience and our shared identity as a country. In this new collection of poems, his first in over seven years, Blanco continues to invite a conversation with all Americans. Through an oracular yet intimate and accessible voice, he addresses the complexities and contradictions of our nationhood and the unresolved sociopolitical matters that affect us all.

The poems form a mosaic of seemingly varied topics: the Pulse Nightclub massacre; an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba; the forced exile of 8,500 Navajos in 1868; a lynching in Alabama; the arrival of a young Chinese woman at Angel Island in 1938; the incarceration of a gifted writer; and the poet’s abiding love for his partner, who he is finally allowed to wed as a gay man. But despite each poem’s unique concern or occasion, all are fundamentally struggling with the overwhelming question of how to love this country. (from Goodreads)

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Book Review: The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye

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The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 112
Source: Library
Date Read: April 30, 2019
Grade: A
Synopsis: Internationally beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye places her Palestinian American identity center stage in her latest full-length poetry collection for adults. The collection is inspired by the story of Janna Tamimi, the “Youngest Journalist in Palestine,” who at age 7 began capturing videos of anti-occupation protests using her mother’s smartphone. Nye draws upon her own family’s roots in a West Bank village near Tamimi’s hometown to offer empathy and insight to the young girl’s reporting. Long an advocate for peaceful communication across all boundaries, Nye’s poems in The Tiny Journalist put a human face on war and the violence that divides us from each other. (from Goodreads)

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Book Review: A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill

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A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry, History
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Source: Library
Dates Read: April 5-6, 2019
Grade: A
Synopsis: From Harriet Tubman to Assata Shakur, Ida B. Wells to Sandra Bland and Black Lives Matter, black women freedom fighters have braved violence, scorn, despair, and isolation in order to lodge their protests. In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, DaMaris Hill honors their experiences with at times harrowing, at times hopeful responses to her heroes, illustrated with black-and-white photographs throughout.

For black American women, the experience of being bound has taken many forms: from the bondage of slavery to the Reconstruction-era criminalization of women; from the brutal constraints of Jim Crow to our own era’s prison industrial complex, where between 1980 and 2014, the number of incarcerated women increased by 700%.* For those women who lived and died resisting the dehumanization of confinement–physical, social, intellectual–the threat of being bound was real, constant, and lethal.

In A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, Hill presents bitter, unflinching history that artfully captures the personas of these captivating, bound yet unbridled African-American women. Hill’s passionate odes to Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, and others also celebrate the modern-day inheritors of their load and light, binding history, author, and reader in an essential legacy of struggle. (from Goodreads) Continue reading “Book Review: A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill”

Book Review: Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

mnMagical Negro by Morgan Parker
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Source: Library
Dates Read: March 14-16, 2019
Grade: C+
Synopsis: Magical Negro is an archive of Black everydayness, a catalog of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms, and customs. These American poems are both elegy and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception. They connect themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring and troubling tropes and stereotypes of Black Americans. Focused primarily on depictions of Black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics—of both the body and society, of both the individual and the collective experience. In Magical Negro, Parker creates a space of witness, of airing grievances, of pointing out patterns. In these poems are living documents, pleas, latent traumas, inside jokes, and unspoken anxieties situated as firmly in the past as in the present—timeless Black melancholies and triumphs. (from Goodreads)

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Book Review: The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan

ttny.pngThe Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan
Published: 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 96
Source: Library
Dates Read: March 4-5, 2019
Grade: B-
Synopsis: In Islamic and Western tradition, age twenty-nine is a milestone, a year of transformation and upheaval.

For Hala Alyan, this is a year in which the past–memories of family members, old friends and past lovers, the heat of another land, another language, a different faith–winds itself around the present. Hala’s ever-shifting, subversive verse sifts together and through different forms of forced displacement and the tolls they take on mind and body. Poems leap from war-torn cities in the Middle East, to an Oklahoma Olive Garden, a Brooklyn brownstone; from alcoholism to recovery; from a single woman to a wife. This collection summons breathtaking chaos, one that seeps into the bones of these odes, the shape of these elegies.

A vivid catalog of trauma, heartache, loneliness, and joy, The Twenty-Ninth Year is an education in looking for home and self in the space between disparate identities. (from Goodreads) Continue reading “Book Review: The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan”

Book Review: The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

esvm.pngThe Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Published: 1991
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160
Source: Purchased
Dates Read: February 26-28, 2019
Grade: B-
Synopsis: One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other PoemsA Few Figs from This-tles, and Second April, as well as in “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” and eight sonnets from the early twenties. As Milford writes in her Introduction, “These are the poems that made Edna St. Vincent Millay’s reputation when she was young. Saucy, insolent, flip, and defiant, her little verses sting the page.” (from Goodreads)

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ARC Review: There Are Girls Like Lions

tagll.pngThere Are Girls Like Lions, foreword by Cole Swensen
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Poetry
Format: eARC
Pages: 99
Source: NetGalley
Date Read: February 9, 2019
Grade: C+
Synopsis: For mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, partners, and friends, here are 30 stirring poems about the experience of being a woman. Rousing and empowering, There Are Girls like Lions is a celebration of womanhood in all its dimensions, including love, beauty, friendship, motherhood, work, aging, and much more. Packaged in an attractive case with foil stamping and featuring striking illustrations in metallic ink throughout, this powerful collection will resonate as a gift for any modern woman. (from Goodreads)
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