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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