American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin – Terrance Hayes

When I heard about the release of this American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, I knew I had to read it.  I don’t often read poetry but when I do it’s because I’m sure the collection is going to move me.  And this one did that and more.

This collection was savvy, intelligent, angry, creative, and has its pages and words on the pulse of what’s wrong with America.  How does a poet cope with the election of a new president?  Lyrical and rhythmic, Hayes let’s us know what the deal is.  So you need to be ready.  He’s angry. Every sonnet in the collection has the same title, ‘American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin’.  One of the coolest things about this collection is that there is a sonnet index at the back.  The first line of each sonnet with its page number moreover when you read each line in the index it makes another poem.

In this collection, Hayes is the assassin but so are we if we feel as angry as he does.  He makes it clear that we are all linked and that we need to realize that and act like it.  He also reiterates that we’re in the shit! He uses everything from police brutality to pop culture to express his thoughts so if you aren’t up on the news, music, literature, tv, shows, movies, etc., it might be difficult to understand the meaning behind these sonnets.  I personally found them excellent and would recommend them to everyone, especially to Americans.  I’ve already read it twice.  Finding new meaning throughout the collection and I will surely pick it up again.  We are going through a difficult and unprecedented period in the United States that needs to change for the better!  All I can say is read American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin for some consolation and most of all vote!  Check out the video below where Terrance Hayes talks about his writing and reads a few of his poems.  He’s brilliant!

“AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN

The umpteenth thump on the rump of a badunkadunk
Stumps us. The link, the chump, the hunk of plunder.
The umpteenth horny, honky stump speech pumps
A funky rumble over air. The umpteenth slump
In our humming democracy, a bumble bureaucracy
With teeny tiny wings too small for its rumpled,
Dumpling of a body. Humpty-Dumpy. Frumpy
Suit. The umpteenth honk of hollow thunder.
The umpteenth Believe me. The umpteenth grumpy,
Jumpy retort. Chump change, casino game, tuxedo,
Teeth bleach, stump speech. Junk science. Junk bond.
Junk country, sum speech. The umpteenth boast
Stumps our toe. The umpteenth falsehood stumps
Our elbows & eyeballs, our Nos, Whoahs, wows, woes.”

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins, p. 48 – Terrance Hayes  (Penguin Books) 89 pages, paperback

Rating: 5 stars

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 11 A Debut Novel (Post 2015)

I haven’t read many debut novels by African-American authors in the past few years, but The Hate U Give was published in 2017 and surprisingly enough had me gripped. As you know, I don’t usually read YA novels but I loved everything about what I was hearing from this book on audio. The Hate U Give is a wonderful book for young people and adults.  Angie Thomas depicts the difficulty of police brutality and the meaning behind #blacklivesmatter for everyone to understand.  If you haven’t read it, definitely check it out or listen to this well-read audiobook.  Check out the video below where Angie Thomas is candid and intelligent about The Hate U Give, diverse books, black children reading, being a debut author, and so much more.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas, audiobook, 11 hours, 40 minutes

hardcover, 464 pages (Balzer + Bray)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 8 – Short Story Collection

The late great writer and poet, Henry Dumas, has been on my TBR for ages. However I didn’t have any of his books until last year when I purchased this short story collection from Coffee House Press. Note that his work isn’t easy to find these days.  His writing has been deemed brilliant and influential. Through his work he developed themes of the Black Aesthetic Movement which was eminent in the 1960s and early 1970s. He was also influenced by Moms Mabley, gospel, jazz, blues, and spirituals. Sadly Dumas was shot to death in 1968 by a New York City Transit Police officer, while waiting on a subway platform. It is believed that his death was a case of mistaken identity, although there is no proof of that. I can’t wait to get into this one!  Here is his brief and exceptional bibliography:

Poetry for My People (1970) (poetry)

Ark of Bones and Other Stories (1974) (short stories)

Play Ebony, Play Ivory (1974) (poetry)

Jonah and the Green Stone (1976) (novel)

Rope of Wind and Other Stories (1979) (short stories)

Goodbye, Sweetwater: New and Selected Stories (1988) (short stories)

Knees of a Natural Man: The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas (1989) (poetry)

Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas (Coffee House Press, 2003) (short stories)

Quote: (Themes in this quote = slavery, freedom, capitalism, greed, america…)

“If an eagle be imprisoned
on the back of a coin,
and the coin tossed
into the sky,
the coin will spin,
the coin will flutter,
but the eagle will never fly.”
Henry Dumas

 

Echo Tree The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas – Henry Dumas, paperback, 381 pages (Coffee House Press)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 7 – Fave Secondary Character

Mawu was the character that broke the sanity of the beginning if this novel. Slave women that accompany their masters on a retreat to Tawawa House. The seediness of this novel made me so mad, but the arrival of Mawu made the other slave women think of freedom for the first time.  She was strong and fearless. This story saddened me but I enjoyed the texture that Mawu added to the dynamic of the story.  It is definitely a must read for the uniqueness of the story.  You can click Wench to see my review.  Have you read this one? What did you think?

“Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It’s their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don’t bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.” (Goodreads description, Wench)

Wench – Dolen Perkins-Valdez, paperback, 290 pages (Amistad)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 6 – A Modern Classic

This is one of the few vintage Signet editions left from my family’s book collection. It reminds me of my Uncle Lawrence. RIP.  He talked a lot about Claude Brown and this book. I’m due for a reread of Manchild in the Promised Land. I read it the year I graduated from high school and was completely blown away by it.  I then understood a lot better some of the things my uncle was always talking about.  Poignant and inspiring with plenty of lessons to be learned by all, it’s a must read!

“Claude Brown is a black man who made it out of the ghetto who pulled himself up from Harlem, from the gang wars, the crime, the dope pushing to become a law student at one of America’s leading universities.  Mantled in the Promised Land is his story.  It is one of the most extraordinary autobiographies of our time.”  (back of paperback, Manchild in the Promised Land)

Manchild in the Promised Land – Claude Brown, paperback, 429 pages (A Signet Book)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge 2018

#ReadSoulLit is back and should be even more fun this year.  If you don’t know what #ReadSoulLit is, it’s a hashtag I started 4 years ago in February to encourage readers to support African-American writers specifically for Black History Month.  The hashtag has now become a way of supporting black authors from all over the world.  So come on over to Instagram to join in on the photo challenge, to Goodreads for the read along of Tar Baby by Toni Morrison, and to YouTube to catch all of the #ReadSoulLit videos from over 30 inspiring Booktube influencers. Happy Black History Month!

 

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