Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart

37 Ink: Atria. Oct. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781501179525. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781501179549. POETRY
In her introduction to this newest volume of poems, Walker cites the "arrows of sorrow, of anger, of despair" that pierce the heart during troubled times, carrying out these concerns in the poems themselves, whether addressing harm done to animals, children, or the earth. Occupied by the likes of Julian Bond, Fidel Castro, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pope Francis, and B.B. King—Walker even pays homage to Muhammad Ali, "the fierce, indignant, poet of words and fists"—these are poems of witness, of spirit and hope. While Walker suggests that the future (our children) has been "captured in a heartless fist," she also recommends that we look to our ancestors "who never sleep/ yet seem to know/ what they are doing" when they tell us to "Rest your heart"… "We have been with you/ from the beginning"…"you are attempting to carry/ the suffering/ all around you/. Let us bear it for you." In a fitting move, Cuban poet Manuel García Verdecia ably translates the poems into Spanish, so that the collection seems to double its power.
VERDICT Walker forthrightly addresses our despair while ultimately offering poems of love and hope for all readers. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/18.]
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