Besaydoo: Poems

Milkweed Editions. Jan. 2024. 2:13 hrs. ISBN 9781571315977. $14.99. POETRY
Kamara performs the audio of her Jake Adam York Prize–winning first full-length poetry collection (after the chapbook A Brief Biography of My Name) with elegance and restraint. Born in Oakland, CA, to a Sierra Leonean family, Kamara pens a love letter to her hometown, “the bucktoothed city that made you wish you never wore braces.” She celebrates Oakland not as the media often portrays it, as a place of danger, but as a nexus of family and friends, good food, sunny warmth, and joy. The poet explores the nuances of language and words, illuminating the impact of casually misspelling a name and the hurt that comes from consistently being misheard and misread. With playful fluency, Kamara creates a seamless tapestry, reveling in the rhythms of different languages as she threads her poems with Sierra Leonean Krio, English, and French. The collection’s title is a newly coined word synthesized from “be safe, dude,” spoken quickly. This gentle benediction, which Kamara musically repeats and layers, embodies the care that people extend to their families and their communities.
VERDICT This brief, quietly gorgeous audiobook reveals new meaning with every listen. A radiant addition to any poetry collection.
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