Semiautomatic

Evie Shockley. Wesleyan Univ., $25.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7743-6
Drawing both inspiration and ire from contemporary racial inequity, police violence, and pop culture phenomena, Shockley (the new black) reveals an overwhelming, disordered fervor in this uneven new collection. Most of the poems owe their inspiration to external sources, noted in the text or in the end notes; The Odyssey, Claudia Rankine, the Occupy Movement, and Prince are a few. In this flooding manner, Shockley’s writing mimics the incessant onslaught of rage-inducing incidents from which she draws force. The most potent poems channel this energy into direct contemplations or condemnations, resulting in resolute, rousing chants. Reflecting on 2015’s Millions March Rally, she writes, “our speech/ of freedom spoke louder than/ blues than badges our speech of/ freedom spoke over their loudspeakers/ our freedom spoke over their barricades.” Other poems pull the reader in too many directions, blurring—rather than elucidating—the larger structural connections between such issues as cyclical poverty, sexual abuse, and politically motivated torture. Similarly, the transitions between pieces often feel haphazard, making it feel more like a collection of individual poems than the largely unified suite it is presented as. But when Shockley harnesses and concentrates her revolutionary allegiances, great anthems emerge: “and the story goes on: the privileged are aggrieved,/ or their eyes are ‘deceived,’/ and another family’s bereaved ~ o ~ the black family be grieved.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-0-8195-7745-0
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