3 out of 4 stars
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Poems from a Black Life that Matters by the13thpoet is a collection of poems that focus on social issues, with racism and politics being the primary themes. The book is split into three sections. The first one focuses on the political state of America and directs the critique towards Trump administration. This part also comments on the fight against racism and what it means to be black in today’s world. The second section focuses on more personal things. Here, the poet looks back on his life, the decisions he made, and the adversities he braved along the way. The third section talks about “matters of the heart” and serves poems about love and intimacy.
My rating for this book is 3 out of 4 stars. I think Poems from a Black Life that Matters is an excellent read. The first two sections of the book are incredible. There are a handful of poems about Trump, and all of them are full of witty remarks. While one poem talks about his poor mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, another follows his point of view where he keeps blaming others for the bad things that have happened in the past four years. What makes it all the better is that the poet has used Trump’s phrases and has immaculately rhymed them to create smooth verses. Because the poet is completely unapologetic and unforgiving in his work, the readers who are Trump supporters might not like what he has to say. However, I would not discourage them from reading it because turning your back to something doesn’t change its reality.
I would suggest everyone to read this book, and I think black people, especially, will find their feelings resonating with the poems. the13thpoet talks about black identity, about the history of black people, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the fear that one has to live with in a place where you can’t trust cops to do the right thing. In one poem, a mother tries to explain racism to her son. It breaks your heart to think that a parent still has to prepare their child for such things, and it sends a chill of horror down your body when the mother tells him not to make sudden moves in front of the cops, no matter what. These poems are not only disturbing and painful, but they are also confrontational. The poet is not afraid to ask questions or to poke the fragile white supremacist ego.
Despite all these hard-hitting poems, the book is not all dark and gloomy. The poet also focuses on good things. He asks people to have faith and never stop hoping for a better world. He encourages the reader to stand up for the change they want to see in the world. The poems where he talks about his personal struggles are heartrending, but they are also inspiring. Because there is some discussion of physical and emotional abuse in some of the poems, I wouldn’t advise young readers to go for it without parental guidance. I would not entirely discourage them from reading it because the book talks about extremely relevant things.
All in all, I had an incredible experience with this book. I savoured every poem, read almost all of them twice, and emotionally connected with the poet’s words. In spite of this, I didn’t award Poems from a Black Life that Matters 4 out of 4 stars. The first reason is that I found a couple of grammatical errors in it, most of which were typos. Another reason is that the third section, where love and romance become the primary theme, was not as well-written. I found these poems to be mediocre as compared to the great ones in the first two sections. Apart from this, I found no other fault in it.
Poems from a Black Life that Matters
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