review of what she holds in Newfound

An Act of Kindness

It is always fascinating to know how one’s written words affect others. I know what I mean when I write what I write, but what I write may mean something entirely different to the reader. This is especially true of writing in the poetic form.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah demonstrates this in his review of my collection, what she holds, my second full-length collection, a memoir in poetic form. What he finds in the work elucidates and highlights the story being told, while holding an even broader vision of its place in the culture & assigning the reader an auspicious task. He writes:

The direct and unapologetic prose does not invite the reader to act as an interpreter of the imperfect characters—her aging mother, her estranged father—the reader acts as a preservative to this memory and messy depiction of life. This is an act of kindness.

Jacob Kobina

Mensah, himself, performs this very act of kindness in each of his various reviews of what she holds. It is a precious thing to be heard and this writer has considered this collection completly: a very rare gift indeed. He writes:

The different materials of pain and joy mesh successfully. At each poem, the book defines and re-defines what this collection can mean. There is freshness, imagery that tests typical cultural norms, a persistent, though at times absent, voice that resonates far beyond the impact of the individual lines.

Jacob Kobina

Deep Bow

It is with deep gratitude to this writer that I make this post. Thank you, Jacob, for reading, but more than that for seeing…for echoing…for extending, for “preserving” this history, the work of “writing conflict” and the healing that brings. As you say it so exquisitely in your review:

…when we write our conflict, we open the door onto our primary relationship with conflict; we write with the whole self: the ears, the eyes, the hands and the body, the nose, and tongue; we write the space we inhabit: the nest, the ambiguity, the spirit of the place, a new angle of vision, the voice of the place; we write the irony, the paradox, the satire; we write the tension and the energy, cutting everything to the bones.

Jacob Kobina

Please enjoy reading the whole review here.

And also, enjoy Kobina’s contribution to the Renga edition of fws 2020 here.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah, who is an algebraist, artist, and author of several books, works in mixed media. His poetry, songs, prose, art and hybrid have appeared in numerous journals, including JMWW, Constellations, Trampoline, 1-70 Review, and many others. He lives in the southern part of Ghana, in Spain, and the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota.

Namaste Y’all!

One comment

  1. Thank you for Kobina’s thoughtful and insightful review that highlighted the power and illumination of D’s poetry and prompted me to go to the collection and start rereading the different entries. I and my being are the more expanded for doing so. Many thanks!


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