The World Falls Away
Booklist Reviews 2011 September #2
Los Angeles poet and Guggenheim fellow Coleman presents a series of subtle and revelatory poems in her new collection. A deep concern for gender, the feminine, and race characterize Coleman's best poetry. In "Quasheba," she exclaims, "the woman born whole casts her body into the radiant void / . . . becomes ebony pearl tossed back / by swine." Coleman's ability to simultaneously conjure the tactile and the abstract makes her works crackle with life and inspire multiple interpretations. Though most of her collection explores free verse, Coleman's formal poetic skills are revealed in her sestina "Jimi Jam Ses," and her Oulipian (derived from playful language games) poem "Duphe & Barghest," in which each stanza contains words that begin with the same letter. For instance, "wasted wolves (whoa) wander / worrisomely" and "this throwaway theorem thrums the / twisted tarry thighs." Coleman's aching and meditative poetry gives voice to inquiriesand echoes. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2011 August #1
This new collection from Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize winner Coleman (Bathwater Wine) pulses with energy, and though the interesting topics range from jazz greats to explaining skin color to a grandchild, dark themes predominate: aging, racism, death, and the failures of the body. Coleman describes life's joys and sorrows ("call what I do a lope, a stagger, a trudge/ i'm moving, if slowly, upward—cloud by cloud") with accomplished wordsmithing, though many lines seem dashed off or hard to interpret ("this then is// the this then/ a rainbow of/ rhythms arcing the sky of perception"). She has a real feel for dialect ("jes' ain't effin' funnn"), but sometimes her word choices veer toward the comical: "I engage in scopings for mange-free strays to adopt." In the prose poem "A Mutant Angel Speaks," Coleman gives us an irreverent take on religion—"i cling to God/ with sticky hands. when he shakes, i shimmy. i say yeah, DaddyMan." Most touching are the poems that honor a dead son, "the long-limbed man child with palms to his knees." VERDICT This vibrant collection could have been winnowed but offers some excellent poems as Coleman "steal[s] words like bread like gold like bones."—Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., IN[Page 102]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.