Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans


I'm really picky when it comes to poetry, and since a lot of the stuff coming out is written in the vein of Amanda Lovelace or Rupi Kaur, I haven't been picking up a lot of contemporary poetry books. This collection is everything I love about poetry, though: it's personal, fiery, and full of visceral imagery; it gathers up ideas like beads on a string, weaving childhood nostalgia with the way that pop-cultural icons can sell out and betray us and rallying for the Black Lives Matter movement.

My favorite portions were the unstructured vignettes about her life growing up. Like, there's one about children playing with Nerf guns, and how that childhood innocence and play mirrors the far more unsettling reality of American's lethal fascination with guns. There's a passage about all the pain that goes into managing Black hair, and how it's a love-hate bonding experience between women. She talks about her struggle to balance her identity as a member of the LGBT+ with her Black identity, and how much rejection from the latter community hurt (especially if it came from "good" intentions).

This is just a really solid, really interesting collection of poems. I bought it because I used to have some of those hard plastic barrettes the cover model is wearing when I was a little girl, and I was curious to learn more about the author and her childhood. And while I did get that, I also got so much more.

4 out of 5 stars

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