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I am brown-black. A greenhouse. A dash of rhythm and blues. A yellow pearl, who’ll punch some yellow peril in your sternum. Have you calling for your mama forehead deep within my scarlet fever, heavy, hip-hollering heat. Beware. I’ll technicolor your opinions, change the perspective of your canvas, whisk you dizzily out of Kansas, you’ll be wiping sun out your eyes in my b I am brown-black. A greenhouse. A dash of rhythm and blues. A yellow pearl, who’ll punch some yellow peril in your sternum. Have you calling for your mama forehead deep within my scarlet fever, heavy, hip-hollering heat. Beware. I’ll technicolor your opinions, change the perspective of your canvas, whisk you dizzily out of Kansas, you’ll be wiping sun out your eyes in my brownblack woman presence. But go on, place that white girl on your pedestal. I bet she easier to look at. -- from He Tried to Drown the Ocean, I Waved


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I am brown-black. A greenhouse. A dash of rhythm and blues. A yellow pearl, who’ll punch some yellow peril in your sternum. Have you calling for your mama forehead deep within my scarlet fever, heavy, hip-hollering heat. Beware. I’ll technicolor your opinions, change the perspective of your canvas, whisk you dizzily out of Kansas, you’ll be wiping sun out your eyes in my b I am brown-black. A greenhouse. A dash of rhythm and blues. A yellow pearl, who’ll punch some yellow peril in your sternum. Have you calling for your mama forehead deep within my scarlet fever, heavy, hip-hollering heat. Beware. I’ll technicolor your opinions, change the perspective of your canvas, whisk you dizzily out of Kansas, you’ll be wiping sun out your eyes in my brownblack woman presence. But go on, place that white girl on your pedestal. I bet she easier to look at. -- from He Tried to Drown the Ocean, I Waved

17 review for He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mauricio

    Simply magnificent

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juliette vanderMolen

    “i don’t know who got you mislead, but there’s a list to get into my mind and you just don’t have the clout. your name taste unfamiliar on my tongue. it gets crowded in there but somehow your name is never in my mouth, keep it that way” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved The power of this poet is packed within 16 fierce poems that made me want to read them aloud just because her message needs to be heard in the wider world. Kai Naima Williams is a conduit of strength. In “He “i don’t know who got you mislead, but there’s a list to get into my mind and you just don’t have the clout. your name taste unfamiliar on my tongue. it gets crowded in there but somehow your name is never in my mouth, keep it that way” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved The power of this poet is packed within 16 fierce poems that made me want to read them aloud just because her message needs to be heard in the wider world. Kai Naima Williams is a conduit of strength. In “He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved” (Hyacinth Girl Press), Kai’s voice seeks to lift me from my own trauma and shows me the expanse of what is possible. “he had told her to run from him or he would drag her into the gaping, savage abyss where no one can breathe for the vines she giggled emptily and raised her eyebrows in guileless challenge” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved As a poet, I’m always aware that my experience may not translate directly to a reader. In “allegory of a cave”, I’m not privy to the specific details of this sister’s situation. However, line and stanza trawl the depth of my own ocean and stir the floor of it until it is sandy and gritty enough that tears leak from my eyes. It makes me feel things that I’m tempted to bury because they are uncomfortable. Reading Williams is immersive; it is not simply enough to take in the words and analyze them from a distance. I have swallowed them and tasted them for my own. The “guileless challenge” and the empty giggles in the stanza above remind me of a girl I used to be. It makes me consider the invincibility of youth and the idea that monsters were something imagined, until I found out that they were altogether too real. “how could you know? how could you know he meant it when he called himself a monster? when you were taught to overlook?) she is every woman.” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved This last line sticks in my throat. The line where Williams lets me know that I am not alone. I have felt the things of a thousand women before and after me, maybe even including her sister. I never wanted to believe the bad things, even when the bad things rose up and gave themselves life enough to push me down. Someone once told me that I approach others with the expectation that they will be as kind as I am. I haven’t decided if that is a gift or a flaw. Perhaps it is both. “but god if she could just go back and listen when he said “run” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved I have used the gift of hindsight to imagine changing past decisions. I acknowledge that if I had done it differently, perhaps I would have been spared pain. This idea, though understandable, is not helpful in rewriting the past. It is only helpful in shaping future decisions, which the sister in this piece understands as she tells the poet she can’t go back, none of us can. “A man who calls me a goddess speaks no more the truth than those who claim I’m not, you are both out of line. You both deign to tell me what I am, ungrateful men, blind men, you do not have the intuition to know of my being, only I can decide–” -Kai Naima Williams, He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved This fire rolling through the ocean that is Kai Naima Williams holds me with both hands until the very end. “the black woman is god/the black woman is not god” is a powerful statement about who and what we are and how we, as women, decide that. It is not up to the patriarch, no matter the race, to determine my worth or where I stand in the world. This chapbook is empowerment personified, it glows from my collection of books, reminding me of the resilience inherent in the female spirit. I hope to read more from Williams and am grateful for the opportunity to experience her words. “He Tried To Drown The Ocean, I Waved” is available for purchase at Hyacinth Girl This review was first published by: https://www.mookychick.co.uk/reviews/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Mifsud

    I must admit, there’s an indescribable difficulty in reviewing this chapbook. I read the collection three times and I’ve enjoyed it each time. It is evident that Kai Naima Williams is a spoken word poet, as is reflected in the work, but this doesn’t take anything away from the written word. This chapbook is a personal, self-empowering anthem, as is the first poem called, “Anthem”. In this, the poet established her voice and hooked me in; I wanted to hear what she wanted to say. Immediately after, I must admit, there’s an indescribable difficulty in reviewing this chapbook. I read the collection three times and I’ve enjoyed it each time. It is evident that Kai Naima Williams is a spoken word poet, as is reflected in the work, but this doesn’t take anything away from the written word. This chapbook is a personal, self-empowering anthem, as is the first poem called, “Anthem”. In this, the poet established her voice and hooked me in; I wanted to hear what she wanted to say. Immediately after, we are taken into a vulnerable place: “she tells me we cannot move backwards her fingers return to the ridge of her scar” (allegory of the cave, p. 3) There’s a uniqueness to Kai Naima Williams’ writing. Yes, she uses well-thought metaphors and pleasant imagery, but what I like most is how she subtly weaves them into her poetry. As in the two lines above, we are shown the unsaid. The chapbook explores the author’s identity and ends with the strongest poem, “the black woman is god/the back woman is not god.” I loved the elements of holiness and royalty, and how love is contrasted with worship. In a series of hard-hitting images, she portrays this: “He said, you are as unconquerable to man as the ocean I said that doesn’t mean I can’t be drained” (the black woman is god/the back woman is not god, p. 33) I am enamoured with this section of the poem; it’s a beautiful way of owning her own worth without forsaking her from vulnerability and humanness. I felt her pain when she described it. It shows that one can be valued and idolised while still being excluded and lonely, and if that’s not the story of my life, I don’t know what is. I’m honestly astounded with how she managed to convey such a feeling through words (although as a poet, I should never be so surprised, should I?) Overall, albeit difficult to summarise and review, I truly liked this book. I’m a sucker for poetry that explores the poet’s identity. Even though it is relatively personal, it is still valuable for the reader, and probably even more for readers that can relate better to these experiences. *** Hyacinth Girl Press sent me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I must praise them for sending me a beautiful product! It’s the kind of love every collection deserves from its publishing press.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A birthday present that is as beautiful inside as out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sonia_Lena

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jay Moran

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alyazia

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emanuel

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stardust

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Phaedra

  14. 5 out of 5

    Firdaws Toure

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shiori

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  17. 4 out of 5

    mark mendoza

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