4 out of 4 stars
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My Real Name is Tyshawn Knight is a poetry collection by Tyshawn Knight. This is not a book for those seeking light-hearted verse about sunny days and perfect love. The poems contained in this volume address issues such as physical and sexual abuse, mental illness, and suicide ideation.
The author’s faith plays a strong role in her poetry, helping her cope with the PTSD brought on by the violence that she has endured in her life. Revenge and working towards forgiveness are prevalent themes in this collection. She also writes about what it is like to be a black woman in a society that sees white as right. As she writes in “Dear Chris Rock,”
“No matter what I do I will always be black
Or to be more politically correct
As a person who has gone the rounds with both medical doctors for my myriad of physical issues and with mental health professionals due to my own issues with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide ideation, I found myself resonating with the poem “Healthy People,” which ends with these lines:
“I was just glad to be free
Of all the healthy people trying to heal me.”
The author primarily writes in free verse, although some of the poems do have a rhyme scheme. This is not polished poetry adhering to strict rules. These poems are raw and gritty, which I feel suits them well, given the subject matter that they address.
These works reveal as well how society treats people who have been abused, expecting them to behave normally when they have no experience with what most people consider normal. An abused person expects to be abused and even when the situation does not merit it, such people tend to be hypervigilant, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. These poems reflect the tension and fear that every person who has been abused feels.
It can be difficult to determine whether poetry has been professionally edited because sometimes a poet will use plays on words. I only found one potential error, where the author used the word “bear,” and the correct word is “bare.” The lines are “I bear my breasts to the world; I bear my soul.”
I do not consider this a serious enough error (if it is an error) to deduct a star for it. Thus, I give My Real Name is Tyshawn Knight four out of four stars. There was nothing that I disliked about this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates gritty, raw poetry that doesn’t hold back from telling it like it is.
My Real Name is Tyshawn Knight
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