Fast Cities and Objects That Burn.
I first came to know Simmons' poetry as spoken word on the Brooklyn poetry scene in the mid-90s. And it is these dimly lit coffee house contexts that come to mind as I read his debut collection. But to say that this word must be spoken to engage and transport the reader would be too simplistic. The strength of this collection rests in its musicality.
In "Musical Revolution(s)," Simmons takes a stab at bridging the musical generation gap: "like sound waves that/sex an open nation under a groove/getting down for the survival of it/revivals of it/in cycles of thirty/from be bop/to hip hop/to rootz bop/to musical revolution(s)." From this easy riffing, Simmons turns seamlessly to prayer in "One Thousand Pieces" where in the opening line, he contradicts many a violent and tragically constructed view of black masculinity with the simple phrase "there are long silences in me."
Yet, let there be no doubt that this is poetry of and for the streets. The collection contains its share of raw, revolutionary love poems--along with many shout outs to New York poets past and present, and other literary ancestors. These are poetically wrapped gifts to the ageless black children of today and those yet to be.
Bethany White is an English Ph.D. student and Doctoral Fellow at the University of Kentucky. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals and anthologies.
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|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2001|
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