2 out of 4 stars
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Patrick L. Washington ends his book Life’s Harsh Reality with the following statement
have a place
Without justice first!
May God bless you
And keep you safe
This is an important sentiment and something I agree with completely. At the same time, I may have been the wrong person to review this book. I am a middle-aged, solidly middle-class, white woman. And while I think I should be in the target audience for this book, in that I think the point of it is to help white people understand the reality of life for black people in the United States, the non-standard (error filled?) use of the English language makes it really hard for me to connect to the message.
Life’s Harsh Reality starts with a prose section, introducing the readers to the main characters in the book and the inciting event of two overtly racist police officers shooting an innocent, young, black man. This prologue should be disruptive. It should be uncomfortable. But not because the author keeps going back and forth between past and present tense, or because there are so many grammatical and punctuation errors that it hurts the reader’s head.
If this had not been a fairly short book of poetry, I would have stopped reading before I was even through the prologue. I was spending too much time trying to make sense of the language instead of connecting to the message. At that point, I thought I would have to give the book a one star rating. Then I got into the poetry itself. The errors did not go away. But the emotion conveyed by the poetry connected with me. It was powerful.
This section from “Chapter 1, Babylon Benefactors” is actually what kept me reading (all grammar and punctuation issues are original to the material):
And later in “Chapter 4, Conscientious Mind,” I felt this stanza more than I made sense of it:I tilted my head to the side
Hoping to digress my anger
sing the first line of the national anthem “O say can you see”
You glorify the white lies of the American dream
And make it seam
As if we were on a winning team”. . . .
After a lot of consideration, I decided to give Patrick L. Washington’s Life’s Harsh Reality two out of four stars. The poetry has power to it, but I honestly cannot recommend this book to anyone other than an experienced poetry editor, who might be able to help the author keep the emotion and the rawness of the poetry while fixing the language so that it no longer disrupts the message.God is my life
Bless with the experiences of heartbreak
Living life in the shake
My story is real never fake
Life's Harsh Reality
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