Monthly Archives: April 2019

Poetry Review — In Love in War: A Journey of Black Womanhood

In Love in War: A Journey of Black Womanhood by K. Grace is a collection of poetry about being a woman and black in America. Grace presents a struggle in her writing. It is a struggle that sees oppression on all sides. There is the struggle in black America to free itself from its past, and, at the same time, to break the cycle of poverty, stereotypes, and the selfishness of people. She proclaims that even if an African-American does everything right, they are still at a disadvantage because of skin color, and that is one thing no one can change:

By remaining silent I succumb to my ancestor’s chains

By using textbooks as shelf ornaments and doorstops,

I push my unborn babies onto slave ships…

By slipping into the safety of convention

I become part of this nation

That was based on

My destruction and dehumanization 

Another battle being waged with acceptance is with women. Openly welcomed into women’s rights demonstrations, the author discovers that most of the welcoming company would not join her in a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Men also present a challenge in other ways. The cry for power often lacks responsibility. There is a perpetuation of victim status instead of becoming masters of one’s destiny. 

I’m tired of revolutioniggaz

these brothas raising their fists to fight

using those same fists to beat their wives 

There is a battle of color too; it is something Grace wishes never existed. Although she can ignore and forget what the world teaches, many cannot. Her use of Whyte throughout the poem is unusual in that is separate from “White Boys” and other general references to “white” people. Whyte is the society in which we live. It is the indoctrination of “whiteness” and then demanding that people act, dress, and perform in certain ways. Not only does the spelling difference separate the individuals from the system, but it can also relate to the Y chromosome. It is the white male, by a vast majority, that makes our laws, sends tax dollars to particular districts, and determines reproductive rights.

Feeding the lie by letting it pull our puppet strings

Acting like chocolate-coated Europeans

Tellin people how to live

When our shit isn’t together 

In Love In War is a powerful collection of poetry with a strong message that will apply to all readers. Her root message is love, and that love is at all levels from society down to individual needs. Grace is clear and eloquent in her writing and even as a middle-aged, white, male I can see and agree with her arguments. There is a cry for all sides to recognize that there is a problem that must be resolved. 

Until we accept that the world is the way it is because of our daily decisions

Only then you can tell me you truly love your children — your future

Only then, can I believe that you are serious about change

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Poetry Review — The Skin of Dreams: New and Collected Poems 1995-2018

Quraysh Ali Lansana provides the reader with a selection of poetry that not reflects the author’s life but the changing world in time and geography. The poet takes the reader in life as an African-American in Oklahoma. “in eufuala” capture the small Alabama town life for a poor black man who, by his own words, cannot vote. The poem rings with segregation, good ol’ boys, knowing “one’s place”, and diabetes. Chicago is different with a different kind of violence with a deep ingrained repression that is shown in “statement on the killing of patrick dorismond .” Other times we are reminded of what we all long for, against all odds:

i am not non-violent i am a teacher
i am not non-violent i am a writer
i am not non-violent i vote
we are not non-violent we care
The dating of the early poems is magnificent and anyone from the period would immediately recognize:

a harvest gold & avocado green leisure suit with fm radio, it was their,
well, daddy’s, mansion, his james brown conk cool, his funky country on radials, power windows and doors a working class music.
~ 1972 ford ltd

Lansana provides the reader with a snapshot of America that few chose to look at or look at with any pride. It is, however, more real than the American Dream and lives everywhere. It may look different or be explained away but it exists and evolves with time.  An outstanding collection of American poetry.

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Book Review — Haig’s Coup: How Richard Nixon’s Closest Aid Forced Him From Office

A fascinating biography of a real-life ”Cigarette Smoking Man” — Never in power but always able to manipulate those in power. Haig struggled to get into West Point, graduated in the bottom third of his class, and would later serve under Nixon. He rose to Brigadier General working under Kissinger in September of 1969, and by October. 1972 he had his fourth star– skipping the rank of Lieutenant General in the process. His strategy to power came by gaining trust and turning on others — Kissinger and Nixon included. Haig’s Coup is the history of the last few months of the Nixon presidency and how one man worked to control the chain of events that not only removed a president but also preserved his own record of government service. A engrossing read,

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Book Review — Dementia: The Journey Ahead: A Practical Guide for In-Home Caregivers

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Summary: Dementia is a degenerative disease that can go for years without being diagnosed. Patients often have a long life ahead with a declining ability to take care of themselves. The decline takes many forms and increases in severity with time. From the inability to control behaviors to the failure to control their body, the disease is devastating. The personal needs of the patent are essential but also the needs of the caregiver must be considered.

Review:

Dementia: The Journey Ahead: A Practical Guide for In-Home Caregivers by Susan Kiser Scarff and Ann Kiser Zultner is an informative manual in caring for those who have developed dementia. What makes this different than other books on the subject is that it is deeply personal and not a clinical reference guide. The poetry of Virginia Pasquarelli punctuates the chapters adding personal feeling to a serious topic.

Scarff begins with the life of her husband, Red. Red was a former fighter pilot, an avid sailor, and an MBA graduate who started his own consulting and partnership investing corporation. A long successful marriage takes a sudden turn when Red develops dementia. The downward spiral of his cognitive abilities is documented and used to help teach others how to care for their loved ones.

Gradual changes in behavior can lead to many difficulties and may not be noticed until more advanced stages. Those affected, many times, do not realize they are suffering from the disease and will need to be protected from themselves. Many still drive and go out on their own, and there are plenty of news stories and Silver Alerts to support that. Behavior alone in public may be mistaken for drunkenness, drug use, or aggressiveness. The book covers ways to protect the safety of a loved one from physical dangers as well as recognizing the early signs of dementia.

Scarff and Zultner provide the reader with a wealth of helpful information from practical daily advice to resources on support groups. Legal and financial considerations are explained as well as what to look for in long term care facilities. Although neither has a medical background, they do provide information on selecting a doctor and gaining proper healthcare. Appendixes provide essential and detailed information. The importance of the author’s input makes the subject of homecare personal and relatable to all readers.

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