Street Smarts

Devorah Major, Author Curbstone Press $10.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-880684-27-6
Rooted in an African American urban culture marked by racism and violence, novelist major's first poetry collection charges a take-no-prisoners spirit with stubborn optimism. Musical and energetic, major's work calls for a live voice to release its emotional power. On the page, subjects are presented as deeply felt, but they are not deeply investigated. Generalized references to Africa, offered as shortcut answers to difficult problems, weaken important messages. Predictable imagery also limits her work's effectiveness. It is, for example, unclear how calling up ""the benin bronze/ almond queen mother eyes"" will rescue an addicted 13-year-old prostitute (in ""cracker jacks""). Still, major's stance as community witness pulling hope from painful realities is compelling, as in ""`what we gonna do bout dem youth?'"": ""dem sees the mama and thinks her nuthin'/ but a locked up heart and a empty room of a future/ dem sees the daddy and thinks him nuthin'/ but a street walker with a drug blanket memory.../ soon dem gonna take off dem glasses with the backwards lenses.../ and pull the earth into a righteous orbit."" (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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