For about three months, I’ve been juggling a few works of poetry. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong; Up Jump the Boogie by John Murillo; and most recently Wild Embers by Nikita Gill which I immediately took to.
Now as you might guess, I didn’t finish any yet but I can already tell I’ll appreciate their final masterpieces. Each of the three represents, but not reduced to, a different pair of eyes to separate cultures.
So with Night Sky we’ve got a Vietnamese-born migrant who writes of family, grief, war, and love with overwhelming cadence at times, however, at other times pretty vague (for poetry I dare say) that I can’t begin to guess what I’m supposed to take from it. Again, I’m not finished so this is all subject to change. I discovered him when I came across his poem ‘Someday I Will Love Ocean Vuong‘ on The Yorker and I was hooked on the flow of words from one cleverly crafted concept to the next, and more importantly, the gentle cry of the message on self-love.
John Murillo, a mixture of African-American and Latino-American influences. I have my subscription to Poets.org to thank with the introduction of his Mercy, Mercy, Me. Some works more than others remind me sharply on how vicariously I live through authors, this was one of them. His poems, lyrics to the music you didn’t know you needed to hear, he elicits emotions in naked unpretentious renderings of memory, the basketball blacktops visions, sidewalks conversations, and recollections of family, struggle and identity. It’s warm. It’s soulful, it’s smart and engaging.
Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty so far is panning out to be my cup of tea. Nikita Gill, unlike the previous two, is a British-Indian writer, living somewhere in the south of England. ‘Dragon’s Breath’ and ‘Fire‘ were the first two poems I’ve read of her off Pinterest and they stole me away like thieves in broad daylight. I take it where I go now, dipping in when I’m too hard on myself.
And I can relate in ways only a woman can relate to another woman. Gill speaks of forgotten strengths, myths of predominantly meek girls (nothing wrong with shy girls btw) we were told growing up, myths about our bodies and unlearning the hurt of the lies that whisper from between the lines; she writes about our hidden depths of empathy and healing and our capacity to take the reigns from pain and trauma, and not a little vengeance. And I’d argue men can also empathize with many of the poems in this one, being creatures of emotions as well.
All three are stories told in similar veins but through different worldviews. We all suffer, we all love, rage, regret and similarly, we can recover and grow. Scars of all kinds are proof of that.
Have you read any of them already? What do you think? Meh or yeah!? Any recommendations?
Bit by bit I’m reclaiming mental real estate from this thing that’s taken my love of reading. Hopefully, the rest of me as well.
I hope you guys are doing alright. If not, I hope you can take comfort in all the hugs I’m sending your way 🙂