Song of My Softening

Alice James. Aug. 2022. 100p. ISBN 9781948579247. pap. $18.95. POETRY
This stunning debut collection from Discovery Prize winner James (following the chapbook Daughter Tongue) offers a broad-ranging examination of the body and everything it can encompass for women, ranging from the traumas of youth and exposure to diet culture, to its role in the complicated dynamics between mothers and daughters, to issue of self-acceptance and sexuality as James explores issues of Black queerness. The collection also meditates on forms of grief, including death and lost loves. “I went to the hardware store for milk and you weren’t there/ so I went to the graveyard for eggs/ but just missed you. Then I followed the waterfall/ of your perfume down the railroad track,/ but couldn’t lift it” reads one poem, just one fine example of how James is able to capture longing so vividly.
VERDICT It’s not often that fat women feel such thorough representation of themselves not only in poetry but in any media and not only in the beautiful moments but in the sorrowful ones, ranging throughout life. James does a brilliant job of portraying this and all her themes brilliantly; highly recommended.
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