This is an official Caribbean Books Foundation review http://www.caribbeanbooks.org/
After being sick for a week and very ambitiously starting back my exercise routine afterward anyway I’ve been feeling a bit low. Maybe it’s the rain, but I love the rain so maybe I just need to put the dumbbells down and chill.
Still, I felt I could handle something short and sweet. So this month I’ll be reviewing a book of poetry by Kimolisa Mings called Woman Defined.
I’ve had this book in my Amazon reader for a long while. More than two years now!! I just never found the time to get to it, until now. So let’s start the review!
I don’t know much about the author’s background, other than that she is from Antigua. So I can’t say if any of these poems are about her personally. The collection of 11 poems follow an initial melancholy tone that starts to get more hopeful as the pages turn.
They speak a lot about self-discovery, dealing with past hurts and how these things can stay within you and reflect on your life in the future, and ultimately affect how you treat people and allow people to treat you.
I felt like some of them didn’t appeal to me and others left me wondering what exactly the author was trying to say or make me feel. They weren’t badly written I just didn’t understand them, but most of them were intriguing and made me think.
The first poem, A Story, starts off with letting us know that we are in for an experience, a soul being poured out, not simply an account of events.
I really liked Quiet Child. It was interesting because it could have referred to being told to ‘be quiet!’ as a child or being called a ‘quiet child’. Unknowingly one leads to the other and the poem could have referred to either instance and would still have made sense. But the poem was really about finding your voice which I appreciated.
Darkness was also thought-provoking but it upset certain things in me.
There are far too many poems about what women ‘lose‘ after their first time. As a matter of fact, why are those words used anyway? Lost virginity. Lost innocence. Society makes it sound so depressing! Is nothing good gained after that experience?
Now I know many women feel the same way as in the poem. And it’s because they may have felt that they had no control over the situation when it happened which is horrible. I’m also not going to be the feminist antagonist and say women only think sex is bad because the big bad man wants you to think like that!
I just feel like, where a woman’s virginity is concerned, we need to shift from a consciousness of personifying or likening the experience to negative things so that women (especially young women) can, in turn, feel more powerful in their stance and make it into the beautiful thing it is meant to be.
Nothing Lives Here was a poem which speaks of anger and fear and how they can fuel each other making you raw and empty. I honestly felt this. Maybe not the anger and fear part but understanding the tiredness of feeling so many emotions until you just discard the act of feeling altogether because you’re exhausted by it.
I think My Cup was my favourite in the collection.
It spoke of the conundrum of finding yourself, and putting on the masks and filling yourself with the beliefs of others and trying to fit into their mold. And wondering why you can’t see your way or be ‘yourself’ afterward.
Until you realise the earth-shaking truth that the only way you can be yourself is to first discard the expectations that others place on you. Emptying your cup, as they say, so you can become your new self, filled with your own beliefs and expectations for yourself. At least that’s what I got from it.
Here is where the poetry starts to go into that more hopeful mood that I talked about and Everyday took it further by acknowledging that everyone is a work in progress and we all get a new start at life every day. The others were good, but these spoke to me. I felt like I understand completely the feeling of it.
A twelfth poem was included called Beauchamp. This was an extra, an excerpt from another book of the author’s poetry, She Wanted A Love Poem (which is also up on Caribbean Books, by the way) This one was the best in the bunch even though it wasn’t really apart of the collection. I needed an entire book of Beauchamp-type poems to sink my teeth into. So I think I might read the other book as well.
I’m sorry that I can’t be more eloquent and compare it to the greats or something, but it was so short I barely knew how to react when I got to the last page. The author did write from their own perspective. There just wasn’t enough for me to form a conclusion about how I really felt. I barely started lifting the veil, peaking into the author’s mind, and it was over.
There definitely was something about it that gave me a feeling of, ‘yes, that is so true. I can relate to that.’ But I also felt as if the author held back a little. The emotions they were trying to express felt like it existed only on the surface. Like they could have explored it in depth a little more to really make me sink into the feeling with them.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written poetry but it was how I started as a writer and even then I could tell the difference. Of when a poem didn’t scratch the surface of what I was really trying to express and when it was spilling out from my soul to the point that I couldn’t believe that I just wrote this.
I think the author could have pushed themselves and dug a little bit deeper because there wasn’t any that really touched my heart and stayed with me long after I finished the book. It’s like they were almost there sometimes then they pulled back or the poem ended. I think that is really the only problem I had with it, if you can even call that a problem.
But I think maybe I just need to release the poems into the air and someday when I return to the book, they would have grown in meaning.
So I still give it a thumbs up for a light read. I just wished there was more, and more depth. But please give Kimolisa Mings’ book of poetry a try and visit the author’s website where you can find more of their work and all the links for their social media accounts to catch up on what they’re doing next! Also, visit the Woman Defined book page on Caribbean Books where you can find purchase links. Thanks for reading and until next month!
– N. Gomes, Caribbean Books Foundation
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