From Library Journal
Particularly in light of the recent deaths of June Jordan and Gwendolyn Brooks, readers might well look to Giovanni as spokeswoman for the black experience. And, at times, she captures it, effectively representing "all the women who said Baby, Baby, Baby I know you didn't mean to lose your job...I know you didn't mean to gamble the rentmoney I know you didn't mean to hit me." A recent poem, "Have Dinner with Me," written after the World Trade Center collapsed, is a modern masterpiece. Unfortunately, too many of these poems, though themselves strong, seem intent on rehashing the 1950s political climate. And the "Not Quite Poems" predominate. These proselike pieces include childhood memoirs that draw the reader clearly into her experiences, and there is a delightful spoof on what the movie of Harry Potter should have been, but elegiac tributes and political diatribes fare less well. "I keep trying to learn something new so I can share what I am learning," she writes in a letter-poem to a convict on death row. While the effort is to be praised, she too often comes up with insights readers have absorbed a long time ago. For larger collections.Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
For 30 years Giovanni has channeled her experiences and responses to American life into bluesy poetry that entwines the political and the personal and celebrates womanhood and black society and culture. Hers is an embracing, uplifting, and sustaining voice, one given to both anger and humor. In her latest collection of 50 new poems and "not quite poems," Giovanni pays sweet tribute to her grandmother and remembers Gwendolyn Brooks: "Not only one of the premier poets of America but a woman for all seasons." She also shares family stories, ponders a scary bout with cancer, offers an unusual view of Harry Potter, and scathingly castigates Bush and Gore. In the title poem, she's at her swinging best, funny and wise as she riffs on the line "we're going to Mars," writing in one striking stanza, "because whatever is wrong with us will not / get right with us so we journey forth / carrying the same baggage," and yet, Giovanni hopes, we may be lightening that burden bit by bit. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved