Worldly Things

Milkweed. Jun. 2021. 96p. ISBN 9781571315168. $22. POETRY
Kleber-Diggs’s debut collection, winner of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, is a stunning, expertly crafted work exploring themes such as grief, trauma, and fatherhood. In “Superman and My Brother, Spiderman and Me,” readers learn that the author lost his father to gun violence at a young age: “I don’t want you to think our Dad had it coming. I want / you to focus on something else—our parents’ designs / were undone anyway; there is no sanctuary in the theater.” This loss reemerges throughout the collection, both in personal moments and in poignant reflections on the deaths of George Floyd and Freddie Gray. Meditations on the effects of paternal love are also revisited throughout the collection; “Let’s grow fathers from pine, not oak, coniferous / fathers raising us in their shade, fathers soft enough / to bend—fathers who love us like their fathers / couldn’t,” one piece suggests. Kleber-Diggs also finds moments of joyful memory and writes studies of everyday life: making oatmeal, an ode to his mother’s face, teaching his daughter to drive, a meditation on marriage. In each piece, it’s clear that Kleber-Diggs is pushing readers to both reflect on and explore their impacts on society and vice versa.
VERDICT This work is highly recommended for all collections.
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