By Nakada Wilson and Guests
Girl Poems, by Nakada Wilson and Guests, offers an intriguing collection of poetry. The book provides a platform for voices rarely heard in mass-marketed books. Ms. Wilson, and her guest writers, do not share a unified view, but they do share a perspective. That perspective reflects the experience of being female. This is startling in a literary universe where the default gender is male.
The concerns of Ms. Wilsonare are not limited to gender issues. These poems are about addiction, love and compulsion. One poem, Sullen Secrets, for example, deals with “cutting”, a compulsion to self-harm. While articles abound in medical literature about this syndrome, in Ms. Wilson’s poem, “cutting” is not a syndrome–it is a profoundly personal experience. There are no excuses or explanations for the behavior, but readers are given insight into how it feels to be caught up in the cycle of this act.
Females and males are not alike. Perhaps, in many ways, they are born the same, but this changes over time. One thing that struck me about the poems was the mention of mirrors and the focus on appearance. This is not an expression of vanity, but of burden, and it is distinct from what is traditionally found in poems authored by males. In Christa, for example, Ms. Wilson writes,
A hot 16
Body tight, morals loose
Vitamins and Four Lokos-
No need for much else
There is a place for this voice in literature. Ms. Wilson is articulate and expressive (as are her guest authors). Good poetry enhances understanding viscerally. Ms. Wilson does this very well. I enthusiastically recommend her book, Girl Poems.
A. G. Moore