A Fire in the Hills

Red Hen. Apr. 2023. 96p. ISBN 9781636280820. $22. POETRY
Weaver’s latest collection (after Spirit Boxing) engages deeply with material reality, both present and past, as it dances among existential planes. Poems speak from and to multiple perspectives: a young girl pens a letter to Jeff Fort, basketballs chronicle the history of an aging sports star, gloriously alive language memorializes Richard Pryor, and a letter to Breonna Taylor intones, “May I see you in flight/ filling the space/ beyond clouds and stars.” Poems range from the poet’s adolescence in Baltimore to Vietnam to the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston (“In these clasped hands we hold the hope/ of another day, braided on strands of grief/ across what divides us, what makes us one”). Often grappling with violence, power, and injustice, particularly as experienced by Black communities in the United States, the poems also grapple with relationships and reinvention. The book is finely threaded with redefinitions of self and reclamations of joy from the tangled morass of interconnectedness, injustice, pain, hope, and beauty. “What names us?” asks one poem. “Who IS right? Not you,” declares another. The collection’s breadth is quietly captured in its closing meditation, the moving and expansive “God Is.”
VERDICT An accessible collection from a poet who continues to probe the past, present, and interconnectedness of being.
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