All of the Ways In Which I Am Black

Poetry - General
102 Pages
Reviewed on 10/04/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite

Sami Arlenis-Frederick’s poetry collection, Drapetomania, is palpable, as though the words themselves are breathing on the page, they have a heat to them, a realness like no other I’ve come across. Some of the lines are described in such a way that it literally makes me suck in my breath. The drawings throughout the collection add to the depth of the poems, as do the varying fonts of titles. Her words pry your eyes open, make you watch, make you listen to how far everyone has come, and yet how far many of us have not come.

Right off the bat, Sami Arlenis-Frederick's first poem entrenched me. The images are vivid, conjuring up my own memories of a great-aunt, a matriarch now long gone, which I feel is very hard to do in only a few short lines, but the author has done it expertly. A comforting, inviting warmth in the beginning that will put readers at ease only to be woken up in the next poem to the poor conditions and the reality that is our world. The juxtaposition is jarring and yet so powerfully right, because poetry should be able to soothe us and yet wake us up to the world around us. Poetry isn’t written by weak people, and isn’t meant for weak people to read; most of it is meant for change and to be viewed by people that are ready for change. One of my favorite poetry books from someone who is still alive.