Mini Reviews: More Poetry

I’ve read a lot of poetry this year. I still have a few more collections to catch up on next but here’s the latest set of reviews!

Book cover for Burning Sugar by Cicely Belle Blain. Illustrationg of a yellow sun and orange and brown hills.

Burning Sugar by Cicely Belle Blain

In this incendiary debut collection, activist and poet Cicely Belle Blain intimately revisits familiar spaces in geography, in the arts, and in personal history to expose the legacy of colonization and its impact on Black bodies.

This is a really powerful collection told through different places and works of art as the author looks at race and queerness in these different spaces.

I’d seen this one shared by a lot of bloggers so I knew it was well-liked plus that cover is beautiful (you may remember when I shared it in a Top Ten Tuesday)! But I was so surprised when I opened it and saw the first poem was titled Manitoba, as well as poems for Toronto and Vancouver. So nice to see parts of home in this collection and be able to recognize the descriptions.

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Mini Reviews: Identity Reads

Another set of mini reviews today as I rush to review all my reads before the year is up.

Today’s set all have to do with identity as a central focus of the book. These are all ARCs too, so thanks to Playwrights Canada Press and Metatron Press for copies to review!

Book cover for Take D Milk, Nah? by Jivesh Parasram. Cover is filled with light brown and black spots like a cow.

Take d Milk, Nah? by Jivesh Parasram

This story asks the gut-punching questions: What divides us? Who is served by the constructs of cultural identity? And what are we willing to accept in the desire to belong? Then again–it doesn’t really matter, because we are all Jiv.

This is a very funny play and I can only imagine how fun it would be to see it in a theatre as it feels from the text that the audience builds up the energy that Jivesh creates on stage.

While the humour flies quickly, Jivesh doesn’t pull punches or mince words. He’s honest and doesn’t shy away from sharing the histories of colonialism in Canada and beyond, and the microaggressions and outright racism that many racially marginalized people experience.

“Did you come here to see an identity play?
Did you come here to watch me recolonize my thinking?
To partition it off to you in a digestible way so you too can feel assured at what the borders are between me and you?” (p. 49)

There’s a part of the play that invites those who have not felt marginalized in their lives, who can’t relate to the experiences that Jivesh shares, to step outside for a moment, or to skip ahead to the next chapter, as a way to provide space for those who can relate to be in a space where they’re known and understood. It feels like a wonderful community play while still being about one person’s journey to understand their own identity.

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