Dying in the Scarecrow’s Arms

Mitchell L.H. Douglas. Persea, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-89255-487-4
“Right now, I shouldn’t be,” writes Douglas (Cooling Board), a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets group, to open a third collection that packs a powerful punch. A poet of both place and race, Douglas explores the segregated cities of America and their inhabitants, particularly the attraction to and fear of black people: “the bartender ogling the emerald glow of your dress the ink that snakes my arms every eye on guard.” The book contains several searing meditations on the deaths of black people; there are the well-known cases at the hands of police, including those of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, and the more personal and particular ones, such as the poem where a mother asks for the newspaper “to browse/ the obits for names/ she knew in high school.” Peeking out between instances of violence are moments of tenderness, intimacy, and light: “As I make a late breakfast/ my 8-year-old cheers// @ the promise of grits. Surely/ there is a little Southern woman/ in her soul.” This collection is well-worth dipping into to hear Douglas sing of America in all its vice and virtue. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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