I Am the Rage by Martina McGowan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
-3.5 rounded up to a 4-
Dr. Martina McGowan's I Am The Rage is a timely and damning indictment of America which sets fire to the fragile façade of freedom, liberty and equality for all. Driven by the despair of perpetual Black death at the hands of police and rife with the angst of trying to cope with it all in the midst of a pandemic, these rage-filled poems reflect the backdrop upon which they were written, forcing the reader to bear witness to Black pain. McGowan's poems are overflowing with powerful imagery that brings the reader face to face with the ugly truths regarding racial discrimination in the United States.
The pain between these pages is quite familiar, too familiar, which may be why after a while I wanted something more out of the collection. While the collection's theme is decidedly narrow, I think I wanted it at some point to transcend the overwhelming sentiments of rage, despair, angst, and depression. None of the poems really pulled me in in such a way that I would say I have a favorite; some of them did feel to me like more of a free-flowing cathartic release for the poet than anything else. Some of them, due to word choice or lack of a discernable flow, felt like they would've been better off as essays.
That being said, there are a lot of strengths to this body of work, and I think it would be a transformational read for those who still find themselves personally and emotionally disconnected from the traumas of racism. For Black people, this poetry collection does an excellent job of reflecting the common fears and traumas wrought by trying to survive in America. The theme of feeling helpless in the face of trying to protect Black children from it all was especially poignant. The black & white illustrations were also a great complement to the collection, further bringing to life what is undoubtedly a moving body of work.
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