- Paperback: 100 pages
- Publisher: Coffee House Press (February 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1566892228
- ISBN-13: 978-1566892223
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.2 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Toast in the House of Friends Paperback – February 1, 2009
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But Akilah's achievement is pretty well unparalleled. She had lost her son, and she brings him back through the pages of "Toast," Oluchi McDonald, not only as he was when he died, an adult, far away, and not only as a child, a boy in her arms, a baby, but seemingly through every stage of life. The poems of "A Toast in the House of Friends," in 98 exquisitely etiolated pages, are like panels in a graphic novel, each presents a pictogram which, flipped through one's fingers, produce not only tears but great shouts of joy and freedom, as she has managed to conqyer death, to find the past in the present, and to allow us to drink both of consolation and rage. Ghosts are "wearied world things,/ always in return," yet "sumptuous,"—"as if all things had origins in delight."
Because his name was McDonald she parses for us the old folk song of "McDonald's Farm," with its squeal of vowels, e-i-e-i-o, some have said a death chant of the days when slaves worked plantations and looked to the animals for their cruel masters, but also a song of profusion that will never end, that will always intrigue the child just discovering how many different sorts of things there are, and always a new one more fabulous than the rest. Akilah Oliver was a singer of songs and a teller of riddles. She dared speak to the dead (one of the final poems extends her keen and wise seeing to the dead white Laramie student, Matthew Shepard) and sees that those who die before us leave us their gifts as well as their bodies, and if we listed hard enough, we are possessed of their brains and souls. "I have been an exiled orphan in the bright world for too long."
courageous gift of such honesty and beauty that it sometimes reads like Akilah was channeling. One of the most graceful and mystical books I have ever read. Language is linear in some places and non linear in others, lyrical and full of intelligence.