***Note: I received a digital review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
I try my best to keep up with fresh new voices in the world of poetry. I like work that sidles up next to you and punches you in the face when you’re least expecting it, and Kendra Allen does exactly that. The Collection Plate covers so much ground in so limited a frame, one could almost call Allen a magician. Herein lies poems (songs? psalms?) exploring Black girlhood/womanhood, religion (its redemption(s) as well as its confines and strictures), sexual politics, family history, the tyranny of memory, and the line(age)s we cross when we decide who we’re going to be.
the pastor is our uncle and our uncle di- / vests me of my volition / back on land / I drip / I dribble, I cough up / who I shoulda beenFrom “Evening service”
How does one even begin to analyze works this explosive? Poets don’t often compare religious ceremonies, in this case baptism, to a divestiture of one’s own free will, but Allen does so with aplomb and an assuredness that rings true for anyone familiar with charismatic faith traditions.
I don’t want to distract from the beauty of this collection with an overabundance of my own commentary, so I’ll just leave it with you like this: I’ve already bought my own copy so I can read it again and again. And again.
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