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Said the Shotgun to the Head.

by Saul Williams MTV Pocket Books, September 2003 $11.95, ISBN 0-743-47079-6

If you greet Williams's book expecting conventional poetry, you will soon become aware of your error. The 182-page book is one long poem tackily dressed in bold, italics, loud and fine print. Some pages house as little as a single word; others as many as a hundred. Archaic Old Testament syntax and a "supposed" interview between Williams (the main character) and a journalist regarding the book are pretentious.

Because of the poems grand opening--"Citizens,/ children of the night/ bearers of the day torch:/ scorched and burned./ Burn not"--one's immediate instinct is to distrust the inhuman fabric of the voice. Within Williams's often inaccessible stream of consciousness are many moments of scintillating clarity and disarming one-liners such as "Books are carefully folded forests."

No matter how erratic the content, Williams's talent is unmistakable. As the book delves into the nefarious nature of oppression and its many manifestations, it clearly circles around the speaker's spiritual quest for love through an unnamed she, who one conjectures is God as woman. For the intimate nature of such a spiritual quest, the disjointed nature that is akin to much of Williams's work creates an undeniable tension between the work and the reader. In this sense, the book falls flat, though oftentimes, quite gracefully.

Samantha Thornhill is a poet and performer in Virginia.
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Author:Thornhill, Samantha
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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