Quote for the Day: January 11th, 2022

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

I’ve seen enough to know that you can be a human with a mountain of resources and you can be a human with nothing, and you can be a monster either way.

Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems by Warsan Shire

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems by Warsan Shire

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Like all of Shire’s work, this collection explores themes of immigration, Black womanhood, Muslim identity, mental health, and sexual violence.

Herein the body is more than its corporeal form. It is a border wall limned with barbed wire, a boat tossed on a treacherous sea between nations, a forest aflame, a line of demarcation, a political statement, a war zone, a site of both refuge and terror, a haunted geography, and a mother’s scream, beautiful and terrible. Herein is a voice forged in fire. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is perhaps 2022’s most anticipated poetry collection and I for one can say it was worth the long wait.

Like a lot of people, my first experience with Warsan Shire and her poetry came vis-à-vis the visual album for Beyoncé’s Lemonade. For those of you who haven’t watched Lemonade, it is composed of eleven chapters, corresponding with the first eleven songs on the album with names like “Intuition” (for “Pray You Catch Me”) and “Redemption” (for “All Night”). In the interstitial spaces between songs, Beyoncé recites pieces of poetry and prose by Warsan Shire. The British-Somali wunderkind, then relatively-unknown outside of the U.K., was catapulted into the spotlight.

Immediately after listening to Lemonade, I bought Shire’s 2011 chapbook, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, which I’ve read several times now. In 2015, she released a chapbook through flipped eye publishing called Her Blue Body, and if you have a copy then you’d be well-advised to hold on tight to it for dear life because I’ve been scouring the Internet for years in search of a copy. I once saw a used copy online for more than $1,000, and if I’d had the money I’d have bought it no questions asked.

Like all of Shire’s work, this collection explores themes of immigration, Black womanhood, Muslim identity, mental health, and sexual violence. I can’t imagine anyone reading it and leaving it unaffected if not completely transformed. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is not to be missed.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems is due to be released by Random House Trade Paperbacks on March 1st, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold. Her previous chapbook, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 1st, 2021

A Toast for Men Yun-Ch’ing by Du Fu and Florence Ayscough (Translator)

Illimitable happiness, 
But grief for our white heads.
We love the long watches of the night, the red candle.
It would be difficult to have too much of meeting,
Let us not be in hurry to talk of separation.
But because the Heaven River will sink,
We had better empty the wine-cups.
To-morrow, at bright dawn, the world’s business will entangle us.
We brush away our tears,
We go—East and West.

Today’s poem was taken from Fir-flower Tablets: Poems Translated from the Chinese, which was published in 1921 by Houghton Mifflin. This collection can be read and/or downloaded for free at Project Gutenberg, a website that makes public domain works readily available to anyone with access to the Internet. Simply click on the link provided here and it will take you to the book’s page, where you can either read it in your web browser or download it for offline reading on your e-reader, tablet, or other mobile device.

Considered one of the foremost poets of the Tang Dynasty, Du Fu (712-770) was born in Henan Province to a civil servant. His mother passed away when he was still very young, so one of his aunts assisted in raising him. His initial aspiration was to become a civil servant like his father, but after failing the test he became somewhat of a drifter, traveling from place to place and writing of his experiences.

Later on, Du Fu made an official petition to the Chinese government for a position in service to the state, and was made registrar in the palace of the crown prince. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Du Fu was unable to begin his post as registrar because of the turmoil unleashed by the start of the An Lushan Rebellion, which began in 755 and continued for several years.

Personal and political turmoil no doubt colored Du Fu’s worldview, but you can also see in his poetry an appreciation of the world’s beauty pushing against the pain we suffer in our short human lives.

Once again forced to live a nomadic lifestyle, Du Fu wrote about the things he witnessed and experienced during his journeys, most of which were extremely painful. Personal and political turmoil no doubt colored Du Fu’s worldview, but you can also see in his poetry an appreciation of the world’s beauty pushing against the pain we suffer in our short human lives.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Haiku VIII

Haiku VIII by Fred Slusher

War is nothing but 
a militia of sharp teeth:
wolves lapping up blood

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

© 2021 Fred Slusher. All rights reserved.