Musing and Meandering by Donna Davis Lewis caught my eye because of the preview which included the poem 'So happy for you.'
'So happy for you', like a few other poems in the collection (including 'New Neighbourhood') captured the contemporary disconnect between our social media feeds and behaviour, and our lived experiences.
The collection covered a range of important social issues, many of which have been highlighted or exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic and the recent spate of racist violence by the US state, including the murder of George Floyd. Issues include poverty, racism sexism, gender stereotypes, loneliness, inequality, history, and inherited trauma. At the same time there are moments of levity ('Hats' for instance), and the celebration of the support structures that help many people survive systemic inequality ('Girlfriends' is one example).
Unfortunately there were two main areas where I felt this collection could be improved. The first was in terms of the technical quality of the poems. At times it felt like there was too much emphasis on forcing a rhyme at the expense of the image. Some poems felt like a string of thought, but not thought that would allow a reader to access because of the absence of imagery or the monotony of rhythm.
The second was the ordering of the poems. I think in a collection that takes you from murder and contemporary and historical violence to dogs and hats, the ordering of the poems is very important. I found that the light-hearted poems were disruptive or created a disjuncture rather than relief. Perhaps this is the point of the collection - that social injustice tarnishes your experience of joy. However, I thought a more careful ordering of the poems may have encouraged a greater sense of coherence.
There is potential here, but for me, this collection still requires some time and distance.
I am an avid reader and writer. I try to popularise and read books that are lesser known, particularly African women's fiction. I have published 5 books.