“Who knows the blues of life in prison?”

Review of Shahid Reads His Own Palm

Book by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Review by Rose Booker

Who knows how to make wine out of government mandated juice while behind prison walls? Who knows the ancestors that didn’t go to Heaven?

“Who knows the blues of life in prison?”

Reginald Dwayne Betts does. Within his collection of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, Betts guides us through the jail cells of America, exposing the harsh realities of what the American prison system does to its people locked behind bars and what that, in turn means, for America as a whole.

The first thing that struck me when I encountered Betts’s poetry was the raw emotion and honesty that he embeds into each poem. He can take an idea, such as solitude in “The Spanish Word for Solitude” and make it so tangible that even in a crowded café I felt as if I was alone.

Betts use of traditional form, moreover, complements the tone of his poems. This is especially true of his ghazals, where the form lends itself easily to the themes of lost, redemption, and revelation.

Finally, the music within this work is reminiscent of a psalm one moment and blues lyrics the next. For instance, “Song,” when read aloud, sounds as if it should be accompanied by a guitar or a saxophone.

Though the topic is heart wrenching, Betts presents it to us in a startlingly beautiful way.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in African American poetry, the American prison system, and poetry about redemption.

This review will appear on Writer Advice’s Hooked on Books.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Midsummer 365 Projects

My quest for fitness, health and superpowers

unbolt me

the literary asylum

gainperspectiveblog

Hope in the goodness of Humanity.

therebemonstershere.com

A wee anthology of dark yarns.

Worm

A Complete Web Serial

Mark My World

Hacking life while enjoying everything in between

A.C. Stark

Holding The Planet to Reason, Not Ransom

semiprowriter

I'm semi-pro at pretty much everything.

raulconde001

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Natalie Breuer

Natalie. Writer. Photographer. Etc.

Le Blog BlookUp

Imprimez et transformez vos contenus digitaux, blogs et réseaux sociaux, en magnifiques livres papier sur blookup.com

Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

The Web log of Dr. Joseph Suglia

Pinoy Transplant in Iowa

Mga kasaysayan, pananaw, himutok at guni-guni ng isang Pinoy na napadpad sa Iowa

%d bloggers like this: