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Antebellum Dream Book Paperback – September 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
"And memory is romance/ and race is romance" these lines from the five-part poem "Fugue" reveal that memory and race are indeed two of Alexander's most powerful themes. Alexander's third book, after Venus Hottentot and Body of Life, features poems about several famous African American icons, including Nat King Cole, Toni Morrison, Richard Pryor, and Muhammad Ali. Her sense of fun comes to the fore in poems such as "Opiate," in which the speaker goes out on a date with Michael Jordan. "Georgia Postcard" explores the new South, which still harbors evils from the past, and "Overture: Watermelon City" describes friendly neighborhoods where people sit outside at night, though it also notes "the smell of smoke and flesh,/ the city on fire for real." There's filler here, too. One poem is no more than a recipe, and a couple of the celebrity poems come across as almost trivial. But when Alexander's forge is hot, as in "Neonatoloy," the reader is transported to her world: "to the mouse-squeak of your suckling, behold your avid jaws,/ your black eyes: otter, ocelot,// my whelp, my cub, my seapup." Recommended for most collections. Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
In the poems that explore race, the poet often plays with images of black and white, subverting stereotypes and complicating preconceptions. Black, the pejorative adjective, is used to conjure strength, virility, and beauty. For example, in "Early Cinema," a black actor is described as "swarthy like a negro, like the finest Negro man. In The Sheik, they'd heard, he was turbaned, whisked damsels away in a desert cloud." In another poem, the speaker says to her friend, "Wear dark clothes, suits, black suits, like you the best at what you do, like you President of the world." In "Papa Lindo vs. the Beautiful Man", the speaker dreams of a man in a white suit with gardenias for buttons in a black and white movie. Is the man black or white? The gardenias get removed and the man is still beautiful. The poet seems to wonder what effect does the appearance of black or white have on our perception, and why does it matter. In "Race", the speaker introduces a dark skinned uncle who becomes an Oregon forester in the 1930s. He marries a white woman. When he comes back to visit his brothers and sisters, he is black just like them, but when he brings his white wife, the siblings suddenly perceive him differently and don't want to introduce their spouses to him. "What a strange thing is 'race,'" she says, "and family, stranger still." In another dream poem, "Clean," the speaker dreams that she rid her body of a bar of white soap and became "totally clean.Read more ›