Thursday, April 23, 2020

becoming. | Renaada Williams

This short poetry collection by Renaada Williams floats around themes of suicide, depression, Black pride, and heartbreak. The poems are pithy and often broken up word-by-word. It took me fewer than thirty minutes to read through about 150 pages of content.

I'll preface this by saying that I did not enjoy the book. Many of the poems read like the vague sentences about heartbreak shared around on Facebook by people afraid to be more specific. I think that the poems each could have been more powerful were they separated by instances of detailed storytelling, but as it stands, the collection is cliched, monotonous, and saccharine. Had this taken the form of a poem-a-day calendar (and thus given readers more time to digest the quips of 2012-Tumblr poetry), perhaps the speaker's message would have been impactful. 

In the majority of the collection, there is one speaker addressing two interlocutors: one is the "you" that broke the speaker's heart, the other is the "you" who can relate to her heartbreak. Later, another emerges: the "us" of the Black community. This section had tangible feeling and gave truth to the speaker's experiences, and it was nice to (if only momentarily) diverge from the monotony of the rest of the collection.

Otherwise, every other line is either wildly self-congratulatory (the back cover reads: "...through her books she seeks to enlighten others while helping bandage their emotional wounds") or shallow in the name of being oceanic. It isn't raw; it's over-done.

Perhaps this is a worthwhile read if you enjoy mantra-like Instagram affirmations. It wasn't for me.

2/5 stars. I received this book electronically from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on Goodreads, NetGalley, and Medium.

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