From the author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag), the Colored page by Michael E. Henry (MEH) is a visceral meditation on the multi-layered experience of a Black body in educational spaces. Sprawling with metaphors and allusions to both the contemporary and the historic, Henry brings readers an intense narrative chronicle of the speaker’s life as student, educator, and finally as a writer. At the center, there is a reckoning with the racism written into the pages of America, and Henry leads us from the microaggressions of educational oversight to the horror of blatant dehumanization. In pieces that directly call out those responsible—educators, institutions, and peers alike—the speaker moves via Henry’s generously vivid poems through open letters, vignettes, and poetic narratives that uncover the realities of an educator’s life’s work in the “United” States today. In a world that so often seeks to minimize Black experiences, the Colored page does not inflate, but neither does it look away. Yet, too, there is joy in these pages. Henry invites us to love, but please don’t touch, the beauty of Black hair, of Black lives, and of our Black students. Henry asks us to look at the vile and call it out, but then we are tasked to shift our focus to the glory that is the student who triumphs. Henry invites us, ultimately, to a celebration.
In the chapbook The Ache and The Wing by Sunni Brown Wilkinson, the poet wonders “just what I can seize” while a “homeless shelter bearing some saint’s name / fills up every night.” Welcome to the rodeo of life: a “father plays evangelical AM in the garden… to keep the deer away,” a friend pours gasoline on a “noisy cricket… outside her window” and “the baby arrives but he is dead already.” Humans and animals are “desperate / for life” in towns named “Why” where “none of my questions / were answered: Why / did our son (apple-cheeked, blue-eyed, / four days shy / of due) / have to die?” Wilkinson’s poems explore “hidden bonds” and how not to lose one’s mind when the world is burning. These are poems with “the end of the world” in them. With “much sad truth to say” about “bodies that break, that bear each other, / that hold one another in dark places.” [Readers can download this e-book for free from the publisher’s website link below.]
Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.