A moment of transparency: this is my first time reviewing a book of poetry on my website. Now, if you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that to be true. However, I realized while reading this book of poems that I really look for three main things. I love it when I learn something new, when I can relate to a poem, and when it speaks to my soul in a way that nothing else in the book has. This poetry book gave me all three things at a time when I didn’t know what to expect from it.
The thing about poetry is that it can be interpreted in different ways by different people. For me, the poems meant one thing but to someone else, they can mean something totally different depending on their mood, thoughts, relationships, view of the world, education, experiences, and other factors. It really depends on what you want to glean from it and what it says to your… soul.
For example, remember the episode of A Different World when Dwayne wrote that poem about his first love for a poetry class? Whitley thought he was talking about her, but Dwayne meant it to be about mathematics. Remember the line, “Your elliptical lips…” Whitley explained that it must be about a woman, but Dwayne interjected and said, “No, it’s about math. No matter what way you turn it, it’s about MATH!” The teacher explained that poetry can be interpreted in many ways, it’s really about what jumps out at you, what you connect with, and what you get from it. It’s really all about the interpretation.
Black Girl Shine by Aissatou Bah
I love it when I learn something new. The poem, Rise and Shine, gave me a new word that I had never seen or heard of before, which caused me to have to look it up. The word was tenebrosity. Of course, I have heard of tenacity, which is close but not quite the same. However, tenebrous was definitely different. When I looked it up, the word tenebrous means dark, shadowy, or obscure. In context, the word was used to talk about how to let your own light shine without letting the dark moments overshadow your light. Yes, we have times of doubt, sadness, insecurity, and depression, but joy still comes in the morning just as the sun still shines every day. Every day we have a chance to start anew, make different choices, and choose happiness even in the darkest of times. I really appreciated that word of encouragement b/c sometimes that’s all we need, an encouraging word.
I love when I can relate to something b/c that makes a bit more personal and it establishes a connection. The poem, Curl, was definitely relatable. As a natural of 15 years now, the struggle was very real in the beginning. I mean, the only style I wore for YEARS was my puff. I was known by that puff b/c I was unable to do my own hair. I got sisterlocs in 2012 and life was so much easier. Anyway, this poem was relatable b/c as a new natural, you are impatient with your hair as you learn what it likes and what it doesn’t like. You learn what moisturizes and what dries it out. You learn that a wide-tooth comb and Denman’s brush are essentials. You learn that protective styles are amazing! You realize that shrinkage is REAL! I understand that combing your hair when it’s wet makes more sense than trying to comb it when it’s dry! You understand the importance of stretching your hair, braid outs, hair wraps, and water. Ahh! I wouldn’t want to go back to the loose natural days, but those 7 years (Feb 2005 – May 2012), were definitely a learning curve. This poem understood that and me back then.
Finally, I love it when a poem can speak to my soul in a way that nothing else in the book has, like none other. The poem, Tears, spoke to me. See vulnerability is a superpower b/c it allows you to be strong once you’ve cleansed all the dark, gloomy, and ugliness away. However, being vulnerable isn’t easy for me. It’s more like a last resort. I spoke about this in therapy as well about how to see vulnerability as a sign of strength and how I need to change my perspective around it b/c it can really hold you back from some good emotional healing and a clearer judgment and perspective. I was just telling a friend this past weekend to cry b/c she’d been through something traumatic, yet here I am… I can’t do the same b/c it’s a “last resort.” When I say this poem touched my soul, it’s b/c I still need to work on cleansing it when the feeling hits. As we all know, feelings don’t just go away… they manifest in other parts of our lives and in other ways, which hinders growth and emotional intelligence. Yes, I got all that from this poem. It caused me to self-reflect and for that, I’m grateful.
Do you honestly want to know if I recommend this book, as if you can’t tell by now? Well, I definitely do! Yes, I recommend this book b/c I found all three of the main things I look for when it comes to poetry books. In addition, I would like to know your perspective on the poems I chose (Curl, Tears, and Rise and Shine) to see if we share some of the same perspectives. Finally, I would like to know what you think of the other poems as well b/c we may share some different opinions of its interpretations. In general, comparing notes is fun and a great way to learn about each other. Maybe you gleaned something from the poems that I didn’t realize? Let’s share! Comment below.
If you want to find out more about Ms. Aissatou Bah, what she’s doing now, and what she’s up to in the future; please find her on social media: Twitter, Instagram (personal), Instagram (poetry), Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.