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The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours: The Poetry of Jill Scott.

The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours: The Poetry of Jill Scott by Jill Scott St. Martin's Press, May 2005, $18.95, ISBN 0-312-32961-X

If you were in Philadelphia the summer of 2000 when Who Is Jill Scott? hit the record stores, chances are that album was your life's soundtrack. It was being played everywhere, by everyone. Even in my predominantly white neighborhood, The Italian Market, you could hear "Is It the Way (You Love Me)" blaring from the butcher shops on Saturdays. It felt like we were all swept up in Jill Scott's love. That autumn, I went to Jill's concert on 69th Street-it seemed like the whole city was there-a myriad of colors and classes of folks. Jill brought the house down with her voice, but what struck me most was a poem she read from a little black-and-white composition book. It was about a "big girl" who Jill viewed as more than big in body, but big in heart and spirit.

That poem stayed with me, and when I received a copy of The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours: The Poetry of Jill Scott to review, I was excited to see this poem in print. I was disappointed to find the poem missing from the collection, and even more disappointed by what was used in its place. Once I sifted through those poems using fairly detailed depictions of defecation as a metaphor for love and heartache, the "open-at-your-own-risk" diary quality of the prose, the arbitrary line endings and prosaic images, I had to go listen to one of Jill's CDs to remember what I liked about her most--her singing voice.

The usual sensibility used in the production of her songs was notably absent: the structure and story line, the ebb and flow of her sound. Unfortunately in this project, words fall flat on the page. The book as a whole represented a "no-nonsense, this-is-how-l-see-it" tone, but I couldn't help feeling as though Ms. Scott saved her best stuff for her true craft-music (although she makes a curious declaration that she doesn't read music). I don't fault her for that, but craft means knowledgeable intention and technique-never send a carpenter to do a blacksmith's job.

Tonya Cherie Hegamin is a proud Pennsylvanian, although she currently resides at Soul Mountain Writer's Retreat in Connecticut. Two of her books, Most Loved in All the World and M+O 4EVR are forthcoming with Houghton-Miffin.
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Author:Hegamin, Tonya Cherie
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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