The New Testament

Copper Canyon. Sept. 2014. 73p. ISBN 9781556594571. pap. $17. POETRY
OrangeReviewStarPoems by American Book Award winner Brown (Please) have been described as "erotic and grief-stricken," and as "muscular and smart." In this book, the poet's "testament" is about love, survival, and redemption, and an experience that is imbued with a strong voice; a singing that is quietly insistent. His poems probe the violent yet intimate ways people intersect. "I cannot locate the origin/ Of slaughter, but I know/ How my own feels, that I live with it/ …To get the living done." These durable proofs of one man's resilience aren't pretentious or purposefully obtuse. One of the pleasures of Brown's verses is his extraordinary use of line break, which enriches and propels the poem, offering surprise at every turn. "Will black men still love me/ If white men stop wanting me// Dead? Will white men stop/ Wanting me dead?" While Brown and his poetry are alive and vibrant, he reminds us, "We breathe until we don't./ Every last word is contagious."
VERDICT Highly recommended for all poetry collections.

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