The Collection Plate: Poems

Ecco. Jul. 2021. 96p. ISBN 9780063048478. $26.99. POETRY
Allen’s debut collection focuses on themes of girlhood and womanhood, Blackness, faith, and family, with water imagery woven throughout in scenes from baptisms to swimming pools, as a source of nourishment and survival and as a representation of grief. One series of poems reflects on clean water: what it means to watch someone search for it on reality TV compared with what it means for those in Flint, MI, to live without it. Allen is gifted in structuring the poems on the page. In “If I’m not my mother” and “If I’m not my father,” the poet leaves considerable blank spaces before beginning, giving the reader time to absorb the silences and their meanings. Other pieces like “We had died real quick” are structured to mimic the lanes of a swimming pool. In the end, Allen not only vividly captures the experiences of growing up in a Black religious family in the South, transporting readers through specific childhood memories and beautiful tributes, but also provides powerful cultural commentaries.
VERDICT Recommended for all collections.
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