Living as a Lesbian by Cheryl Clarke (Feb. 2014 Pick of the Month)

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Publisher/Date:  A Midsummer Night’s Press, Jan. 2014
Genre(s):  Poetry, Politics, Sexuality
Pages:  152
Website:  http://www.sinisterwisdom.org

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

LIVING AS A LESBIAN is a book right wingers warn you about. About riots and clits and pride in being black and lesbian, Living takes these subjects, infusing them with her observations and insight, pouring a wickedly-worded brew that wakes up your senses.

To read Living is to know Cheryl Clarke. Born in 1946, this poet, educator, essayist, feminist and activist was raised in segregated Washington, D.C. where she became captivated by words, learned deprecating humor from her mother, father and aunt, and spent time spying on grown folks conversations. Clarke saw and felt the turbulence of the 1960s, especially the violent outcome following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a disturbance that haunts her still to this day. This unjust world nurtured her poetry beginnings, especially when she was an English major at Howard University from 1965 to 1969. Her Chocolate city education – followed by a Masters and Ph.D. from Rutgers University, where she later retired after 41 years as a professor – is what lead her to become the rebel she is, even to this day.

This realization of Clarke is integral to reading Living. It frames the words you’ll find inside: metaphors draped in turquoise, descriptions of dirty politics and provocative sex, jazz riffs that carried Clarke into adulthood.

When I was approached to review Living, I was told it was a reprint of the book originally published in 1986. In saying yes to this review, I was slightly intimidated. Clarke is one of our living legends, a woman who has written influential essays and pronounced her lesbianism proudly and apologetically. She doesn’t mince words, but instead asserts her own capabilities as a black gay woman. In Living, Clarke poetry reflects this strength and her considerable knowledge of the world through her black lens.

Unfortunately, almost 30 years later, Living still has resonance. The police brutality Clarke refers to in “Miami: 1980”, still as relevant with our black men being gunned down by crooked cops, mostly recently with recent FAMU grad Jonathan Ferrell last year in North Carolina. The unadorned passion Clarke shows to her woman in “Kittantiny”, can be found in our own bedrooms. The same white privilege Clarke denounces in “we are everywhere” now shows up in racially inappropriate social media posts and half-assed apologies (I’m looking at you, Madonna). When blacks are increasingly undervalued, Clarke told you that back then with “urban gothic”.

And poor people
black, purple, umber, burgundy, yellow,
red, olive, and tan people.
In neat-pressed vines.
On crutches.
In drag.
With child and children.
Dissidents, misfits, malcontents, and marginals
serving out our sentences on the streets of
America
spread-eagled against walls and over car hoods.
Frantic
like rats in a maze
an experiment in living
down at the jail,
the courthouse on the highway.

I think it should be said that Clarke’s Living as a Lesbian can be complex, daunting almost. It’s not a quick read, and it should definitely be consumed with plenty of thought and afterthought. Some of her references are from a different time, but the reprint of Living does include Clarke’s notes that fill in the gaps, for the generations that might not understand her references. It’s as if Clarke is a godmother of sorts, passing along the history that she’s seen and overheard and lived, and that is worth the challenge Living presents.

Reviewed February 2014

About Cheryl Clarke

Cheryl Clarke is a poet, essayist, scholar, and activist. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women (originally self-published in 1981 and distributed by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1982); and for Firebrand Books Living as a Lesbian (1986), Humid Pitch (1989) and Experimental Love (1993). Her most recent books are the critical study, After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement (Rutgers University Press, 2004), and The Days of Good Looks: The Prose and Poetry of Cheryl Clarke 1980-2005 (Carroll and Graf, 2006). She is the recipient of the 2013 Kessler Award from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York. Clarke played June Walker in the 1996 feature film The Watermelon Woman directed by Cheryl Dunye. She lives and writes in Jersey City, NJ and Hobart, NY. She and her lover, Barbara Balliet, co-own a used and rare bookstore in Hobart, N.Y., the Book Village of the Catskills.


Soft Tsunami by Claudia Moss (Oct. 2013 Pick of the Month)

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softtsunamipotmlogoPublisher/Date: Mariposa Publications, Sept. 2012
Genre(s): Poetry
Pages: 126
Website: http://claudiamoss.webs.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Who is Claudia Moss?

I’ve been asking myself that since I read her novel, If You Love Me, Come in 2011. I was so in love with that book, the troubles of four women connected and intersected by the power of love. Its similar style to one of my all-time favorite books, Mama Day by Gloria Naylor, intrigued me to learn more about its creator.

In my discovery, I found Miss Moss, also known as the Golden Goddess to be a storyteller, a word weaver, a mama, a mentor, a radio host and most of all, a poet.

Based on her newest work, SOFT TSUNAMI, I could say she’s something of an enigma, but that wouldn’t be accurate because her poems lay out her maturity, her sensualness, her grown woman assertiveness. There’s nothing in her words that can be interpreted as meek or mild, only confidence, and that’s what I loved most about her book.

So I touch you softer than quill skimming rice paper
A message of calligraphy teasingly rough
Sighs in the taste of us
Transcribed in wetness
Before an indelicate deluge
Squirts
Across my body
To dry in dainty spots on your Soul
Touch-tethered to mine

Reading her poems, I also call her a whirlwind. There’s a flurry of emotions, sensations and passions that speak to and for any femme confident in her sexuality, and her love for the womanly form is mesmerizing. Studs, take notice of this femme form:

‘Cause you don’t know what to kiss first
her smooth sexy feet
those cheeks, Oooh those cheeks
have you humming stupid yummy tunes
about her tight crescent moons
dipped in a sepia glaze
her waist lining towards her cute kitty

Her style may scream raw, but she also can give and receive love, and is humble in its presence.

Others bow to
Wondering how we two
Share a current so rare
So true
You see, I recite her
And she–
She interprets me.

But don’t get it twisted. Just like a raging tide, Moss can batter your heart with a line so venomous, you’d wish you hadn’t crossed her.

i’m not frightened of the walkin’ away
and don’t think the way you lay the pipe is yo’ ticket to say
ladies already lined up to play
with the goddess you took for granted
like the door don’t swing both ways

Yet above all, Moss is a Lyrical Lady, her Soft Tsunami celebrating and opining the life of a woman who has is living a full life, but steady embracing what the universe continues to teach her.

Tender-hearted, sometimes I bow to tongues sharpened on the
cutting board, but I am my own unguent, my Band-Aid
against the lacerating wounds of the mouth, when I remember
I AM.
Today I live the lessons I teach.
I am untamed, free.
I do what I want to do, say what I want to say,
indiscriminately.

So this is Claudia Moss. Lover of natural hair, butches, Backwoods women, and fine literature. While her words may be slightly repetitive, with Soft Tsunami, she wants you to know whom she is. Now I can truly say I do.

Reviewed October 2013

Read the Pick of the Month Interview With Claudia Moss

About Claudia Moss

Claudia Moss is the author of two novels, Dolly: The Memoirs of a High School Graduate (her Holloway House debut, adolescent novel) and If You Love Me, Come (her latest, self-published novel). Her short fiction has appeared in a host of anthologies including Longing, Lust, and Love: Black Lesbian Stories (Nghosi Books), Gietic: Erotic Poems/Kinky Short Stories (Gia Bella & The Siren), The Lust Chronicles (e-book), The Hoot & Holler of the Owls (Hurston/Wright Publications), Purple Panties (Strebor Books), SWING!: Adventures in Swinging By Today’s Top Erotica Writers (Logical-Lust Publications), Life, Love & Lust and Her Voice: poetry (Lesbian Memoirs). Her poetry has also appeared in Venus Magazine. She is also the author of the independently published Wanda B. Wonders series, which introduces the enigmatic Everywoman, Ms. Wanda B., who is a humorous social commentary, unafraid to voice her opinions on contemporary life in shades of black and white.


SistaGirl by Anondra “Kat” Williams

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sistagirlPublisher/Date:  Black Ink, July 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Short Story, Poetry
Pages:  172
Website:  http://www.anondrawilliams.com

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

A Southern woman is a delicacy: defined as a delicious, rare, or highly prized item of food; pleasing subtlety in something such as taste, smell, or color; or the quality of being easily damaged or broken.

All these qualities are revealed reading SISTAGIRL from Anondra “Kat” Williams, also author of black girl love. Her newest collection of stories and poems picks up where black girl love left off, but adds an extra pinch of down-home charm. For a girl like Williams, born and bred in Mississippi, this volume of Southern sensibilities is her bread-and-butter, her calling card. She knows the South, and she definitely knows women.

I saw it when I read the title story, about loving your sista no matter whom she loves, and in “Saturday Mornings,” recalling the memories of Mama and her friends gossiping and commiserating around the table over cups of coffee, at a time when children were to hush when grown folks are talking. It’s also clear in “Southern Living,” narrated by a Northerner loving a “Mississippi thick girl” with hot grits ready every Sunday.

One of the biggest themes in SistaGirl is growth, as a woman and in relationships, a trip back to the girl you used to be, and the woman you are now. Tales such as “Years” recount the affair between a woman in love and a woman who doesn’t want to be caught, realizing one can come back home. In “Firsts” and “15,” the evolution of love is shown, the former being first loves, and the latter growing older together. I reveled in the coziness of the poem, “morning,” reminding me with talks in the arms of your soulmate.

Like a side of buttered cornbread next to your collard greens, the drama finagles its way to the plate in SistaGirl, as well. Stories of crazy love (“Time”), domestic abuse (“Roses”), and dating women with husbands (“How You Get’em”) round out this set. And lest you worry, there’s some “good joog” in there also, with a stimulating game of “Tic-tac-toe” that I need to, ahem, play one of these nights.

Her bonuses, “Top 10 Rules for Being a Lesbian” and “The 11 Lesbians You Will Meet in Your Lifetime”, are humourously spot-on. Williams also includes a except from her upcoming fall 2014 novel, Pat Greene, which I’m looking forward to.

Williams’ SistaGirl exposes the hearts of real women. I found her stories to be exceedingly true in sentiment, but a little slack on the editing. A couple of stories ended abruptly that I wanted to see continue, or at least be fleshed out further. That aside, SistaGirl is all the women in your life, and may be you. And the love of good woman is hard to beat.

Reviewed August 2013

Read the Catching Up With… Interview with Anondra “Kat Williams

About Anondra “Kat” Williams

Anondra “Kat” Williams is writer, poet, radio host and all around lover of words. Her first foray into writing was black girl love released in 2011 and her second book SistaGirl released August 2013. Both are a collection of short stories and poetry, detailing everyday love and life between women who love women.

Kat’s work is currently featured in the anthologies Life, Love & Lust 1 & 2 a collection of short stories & Her Voice a collection of poetry. She will also be in the soon to be released Geechee to Gumbo: Black Southern Womanloving Culture & Politics and G.R.I.T.S: Girls Raised In The South – An Anthology on Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices and Their Allies.

In 2009 she started Shades Retreat: Personal, You. Shades Retreat is a empowerment, growth and change retreat for queer women of color. Shades Retreat occurs once a year during the third week of April.


Forever Tangled: A collection of poems and stories from the heart and between the thighs (Volume 1) by Monique ‘Being True’ Thomas

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forevertangledPublisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Nov. 2012
Genre(s):  Romance, Erotica, Poetry, Short Story
Pages:  112
Website:  http://authormoniquebeingtruethonas.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot:  In the first volume of FOREVER TANGLED: A COLLECTION OF POEMS AND STORIES FROM THE HEART AND BETWEEN THE THIGHS, Monique ‘Being True’ Thomas invites you “to the playground of love and seduction” to “enjoy your time playing on the jungle gym” of her thoughts. Her erotic material – such as “Watched” and “Wet” –  will surely get your heart rate (and other things) up; at the same time, Thomas brings love to the table, like in “All I Wanted to Do” and “Reflection” (my personal favorite). Poetry also rounds out this first installment.

The Good:  Thomas’ stories have a familiar feel, if you’ve remember or read some of her other works featured on Kuma2.net and in the Life, Love, Lust series by Lesbian Memoirs. The love scenes are extremely sensuous, and her poetry is expressive.

The Not-So-Good:  A couple of the stories have a been-there-done-that quality.

The Bottom Line: Forever Tangled is a small read with big of heart.

Reviewed April 2013


Living With 3 Strikes Against Me: Life Through My Eyes as Black, Female and Gay by Ericka K. F. Simpson

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Publisher/Date:  Amazon Digital Services, Inc., Aug. 2012
Genre:  Lesbian Real Life
Pages:  149
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After authoring countless novels, such as the outstanding I Am Your Sister, Ericka K. F. Simpson has finally written her own life story in LIVING WITH 3 STRIKES: LIFE THROUGH MY EYES AS BLACK, FEMALE AND GAY.

The messages Simpson imparts descend from her reactions and responses to life experiences. She started writing Living when she was 23 and was still learning her way in the world. Now she’s summoned the courage and confidence to be herself and share this knowledge with others.

Simpson has a testimony. Growing up in a religious household, it didn’t feel right having crushes on girls. She tried to deny it by dating guys, but it was a losing battle. What she felt was real. Denying it and carrying the pain literally made her sick, developing stage 3 colon cancer; stress and anger from trying to please others festered into a tumor that could have killed her. Only then did Simpson begin to live for herself.

Living is divided into seven categories, ones that talk about her early life, love, women, religion and parental controls; a section of Simpson’s poetry is included, as well. These segments provide insight into the author, who displays a maturity that should rub off on younger black lesbians.

Simpson offers these gems:

Love: “Trust me, there is someone out there who will appreciate you for who you are. They will love you the way you need to be loved and most of all, they will fight for that love. Wait for that person, wait for that moment, wait for that kind of love then you fight to keep it.”

Sex: “The point I’m trying to make is this, whether you have good pussy or bad pussy, clean or raunchy, give good head or no head, you’re offering something that all women have the ability to provide. And your pussy being ‘well used’ don’t make it better than most.”

Religion:My point is, for those of you who are gay and love God, worship Him anyway. Don’t let the church make you feel ashamed to love God and someone of the same sex. People do not know your heart but God does and He’ll know if the relationship you have with him is real.”

If you read Living With 3 Strikes Against Me and take it in, you will be blessed with information and humor that you can apply to your life. It’s said that God places people in your life for a reason, and Simpson’s story is definitely not in vain.

Reviewed December 2012


Fantasies, Sex, Lies, & Love… Chronicles of the Heart and Mind by Harmonie Reigns

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fantasiessexliesandlovePublisher/Date:  CreateSpace, Feb. 2012
Genre(s):  Romance, Erotica, Poetry, Short Story
Pages:  212
Website:  http://harmoniereigns.wix.com/harmonie#!info

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: In most cases, relationships usually include FANTASIES, SEX, LIES & LOVE…CHRONICLES OF THE HEART AND MIND in some fashion. That’s what Harmonie Reigns asserts in her collection of dramatic short stories and corresponding poems. Love can be reunited in (“The Encounter”) or reassuring (“In the Blink of an Eye”) or life-changing (“The Librarian”). On the other hand, it can also be deceitful (“The Office”) or simply about the panties (“The Truck Stop”). With Reigns, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The Good: Reigns delves into hearty plots with each tale. She draws you into the characters, allowing you to care about the two (or sometimes three) people in the relationship that matter the most. And the sex found between the pages is scorching.

The Bad: Although the stories were hot, the excessive grammatical errors were not. It did slow me down at times. Also, some of her poems I couldn’t quite get into.

The Bottom Line: Read Fantasies for the love and the lust, and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed August 2012

Fantasies, Sex, Lies, & Love… Chronicles of the Heart and Mind by Harmonie Reigns
CreateSpace, Feb. 2012
212 pages
Contemporary Romance/Erotica/Poetry/Short Story
http://harmoniereigns.wix.com/harmonie#!infoRating: 3 out of 5

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: In most cases, relationships usually include FANTASIES, SEX, LIES & LOVE…CHRONICLES OF THE HEART AND MIND in some fashion. That’s what Harmonie Reigns asserts in her collection of dramatic short stories and corresponding poems. Love can be reunited in (“The Encounter”) or reassuring (“In the Blink of an Eye”) or life-changing (“The Librarian”). On the other hand, it can also be deceitful (“The Office”) or simply about the panties (“The Truck Stop”). With Reigns, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The Good: Reigns delves into hearty plots with each tale. She draws you into the characters, allowing you to care about the two (or sometimes three) people in the relationship that matter the most. And the sex found between the pages is scorching.

The Bad: Although the stories were hot, the excessive grammatical errors were not. It did slow me down at times. Also, some of her poems I couldn’t quite get into.

The Bottom Line: Read Fantasies for the love and the lust, and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed August 2012


The Other Side of Joy by April Joy Bowden

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othersideofjoyPublisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, May 2012
Genre(s): Poetry, Romance
Pages: 100
Website:  http://www.apriljoybowden.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Since elementary school, April Joy Bowden has nurtured her love of poetry. It was her release, her connection to the world, her first love.

Bowden’s long-time courtship with verses birthed THE OTHER SIDE OF JOY, a moving work of poems about the emotions and passions manifested by love.

The North Carolina resident and full-time photographer breaks her book into four sections: joy, pain, intimacy and ecstasy. With each, she supplies the rules, and the words she utilizes to describe each facet are truthful and familiar. It’s evident she’s lived it.

The glass remains shattered on the floor
Life’s little remainder that this was the last time the Storm would walk through my door
The broken pieces of my soul, my life, my heart
A subtle hint, a blatant call that we are truly apart
No time, no reason
To mend, fix or repair
Four long years to love, to laugh, to care

What’s also interesting about Joy is the storytelling found in her poems. Bowden is vivid in her depiction of desire.

I awake prior to the sunrise
As my eyes open
Behold the beautiful caramel kissed woman who lay beside me
In the moonlight
Her bosom glistens
And every curve has a story to tell
A story that because I’ve listened
I know so well

In a small amount of pages, Bowden says and expresses a lot in The Other Side of Joy. You can also check out Bowden’s co-authored memoir, High: On Love & Addiction, revealing the ordeals in loving a woman consumed by drugs, which is just as genuine and heartfelt as Joy.

Reviewed August 2012


Erotic Tones…Sensual Moans: A Mixture of Sensual Erotic Poetry & Short Stories by Stacey M. Rice

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erotictonesPublisher/Date:  Rycemoore Horizons, Dec. 2011
Genre:  Erotica
Pages:  120
Website:  http://www.rycemoorehorizons.weebly.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: Twenty-three short stories and poems convey the erotic overtures between women in EROTIC TONES…SENSUAL MOANS. Author Stacey M. Rice captures the raw and sweet with tales like “Oooh Boi,” a stud-4-stud treat and “Thrill of the Chase,” where a bookstore patron doesn’t accept no when it comes to the store owner.

The Good: Rice definitely mixes it up. The stories are fun, and the poetry is passionate. The depth of the book heightens as you read.

The Not-So-Good: While the tales were heat-inducing, there were a couple of moments when the characters would head-hop, and you don’t know who’s putting it on whom. And I would have liked a little more background on some of the characters, as well.

The Bottom Line: Rice spares no time and delves straight to the point in Erotic Tones. You will be satisfied.

Reviewed June 2012


Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume III by Billie Simone

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suite69volume3Publisher/Date:  Billie Simone, Feb. 2012
Genre:  Poetry
Website:  http://billiesimone.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Instead of the sexual come-ons found in the previous installment, SUITE 69: BLACK LESBIAN EROTICA VOLUME III is more expressive about heartbreak and love lost this time around.

Billie Simone’s heart and mind are heavier, and her poems recount a darker time when love beat her down and could have left her for dead. Lucky for her (and for us), Simone channels her anguish into something we could absorb.

Anyone can empathize with losing a love. When Simone’s at her most vulnerable, is when you can really relate:

Cause you…
Got inside me…
Deeply in my insides’ insides
And you are still there
Lingering in every nook and cranny
And every crevice and
Crack…
Ain’t no woman…Ain’t nobody…
Every penetrated me like that…

Yet while nursing her wounds, Simone’s poems tell of learning the importance of loving oneself. It helps her through it all, and permits her heart to open again.

iLove that you
Ain’t scared of my
Scars
Love that you love
Me just as hard
Love that you
Love me with no regard

Simone, with Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume III, plunges us into the mind of a stud who loses her swagger a bit, yet sees her rise again. However, it’s worth the aches chronicled in her poems to glance her smile gracing the book’s cover.

Reviewed June 2012


the bull-jean stories by Sharon Bridgforth (Jan. 2012 Pick of the Month)

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Publisher/Date:  Red Bone Press, Aug. 1998
Genre:  Poetry
Pages:  109
Website:  http://www.sharonbridgforth.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

na/i’s a wo’mn
whats Lovved many wy’mns.
me/they call me bull-dog-jean i say
that’s cause i works lik somekinda ole dog
trying to get a bone or two
they say it’s cause i be sniffing after wy’mns
down-low/beggin and thangs
whatever.

the bull-jean stories, written by accomplished author and playwright Sharon Bridgforth, is a Southern-fried poetic masterpiece. Like bites of mama’s golden fried chicken, the words coat your pallet with a flavor that warms the soul. The rhythm of Bridgforth’s tale of a rough-talkin’, blue-collar bulldagga in the 1920s likens itself to prose that creates a vivid love story.

bull-jean is a willing participant in love, as narrated by neighbor Cuss. Cuss watches and reports every bull-jean sighting with the expressiveness of an old lady busybody. Through her eyes, we see bull-jean fall in love faster than greased lightning, having no problem expressing her feelings to the one she loves.

am asking you to be my wo’mn
whole and complete in all essence
i want to make this journey/this Life
wid you i want to wake
to the smell of your hair/the taste
of your neck each morning/i
want you curled in to me so i can
turn you open/to the
light of your eyes

Every chapter is a lesson learned because bull-jean can’t find the right woman. She becomes enamored with the wrong ones, and never feels like she’ll love again. It’s a place we’ve all been, and Bridgforth tells it with such devotion and passion.

By the book’s end, we witness a woman who had to go through to get it right. Short but sweet, Bridgforth’s writing captures the black lesbian song of the South, a time when being gay or black wasn’t a desirable status to the powers that be. Yet, bull-jean was not ashamed, just a woman who lived her life and sacrificed and took care of the people she loved.

the bull-jean stories has a blues, spiritual and inspirational soundtrack, one that sheds light on our history and reminds us our kind of love has been around for generations – but it’s still the same refrain.

Reviewed January 2012


Mental Silhouette by Renair Amin

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mentalsilhouettePublisher/Date:  Dodi Press, May 2011
Genre: Poetry
Pages:  82
Website:  http://www.renairamin.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Renair Amin’s MENTAL SILHOUETTE comes in many shades of love, pain, anger, and finally, light.

Divided into four colorful sections, the poems found in Silhouette read like a diary of Amin’s innermost feelings and opinions – as an author, spoken word artist and minister.

First is the Red Shadows section, featuring poems about the splendor of love.

My wish is that I will always love you
Even when faces have changed
And presence is no more
That we will revert back to memories of joy and bliss

The darkness emerges in Amin’s Blue Shadows and Black Shadows, including powerful verses about life’s disappointments in people and society. The aches are palpable.

I feel like I am drowning beneath the sound of thunder
You have no clue what it is like to be me
There are times when things swallow me
Times when the gallows be hanging me

THE DEVIL WILL NOT BREAK ME

Ending on the best note, the glow of White Shadows is the brightest. Amin offers the hope and peace she’s found within spirituality. These poems seem her most personal.

As I lie down before you
Penetrate my soul because I
Know what I want
But tell me what I need
Saturate me with unfound knowledge
Humble me into you because I am proud
Strengthen me because I’m weak

In Mental Silhouette, Amin shares her journey through her work, her jewels that allow her to release her experiences and put them into an effort that is moving, to say the least.

Reviewed January 2012


Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume II by Billie Simone

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suite69iiPublisher/Date:  AppleTree Publishing, Oct. 2007
Genre:  Poetry
Pages:  61
Website:  http://billiesimone.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Laden with swagger and bravado, SUITE 69: BLACK LESBIAN EROTICA VOLUME II by Billie Simone wastes no time in telling you what she wants.

That is a turn-on, as are her poems that reveal emotions from a masculine lesbian standpoint. In Simone’s own words, “They come from my mind, my heart, my pussy, and my soul.”

Some of the poems deal with heartbreak, as evidenced with “suite memories,” where a player laments a lost love, while “u say” sees her confronting a trifling lover. And “after da love has gone” echoes the sounds of missing the one you love.

Femmes, if you want a stud talking sweet in your ear, read poems like “mama, may i”, and “I wanna f**k you so bad.” Just try to resist the words of “talk 2 me”, if you dare:

I want your
mouth
to say the
words I need to hear
say them
and mean them…
say them
with your eyes
open wide
staring deeply
into mine

A writer as well as a skilled photographer, Simone is smooth as silk with the come-ons in Suite 69. The poems come from a brash but heartfelt place, feeling as if you’ve entered a stud’s mind.

Reviewed January 2012


Visions of a Cryptic Mystery: Volume One by Eternity Philops (June 2008 Pick of the Month)

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visionsofacrypticmysterypotmlogoPublisher/Date:  Black Tygre Publications, Apr. 2008
Genre(s):  Poetry, Short-Story
Pages:  126
Website:  http://www.eternity-philops.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

A sweet feeling washes over you when reading VISIONS OF A CRYPTIC MYSTERY: VOLUME ONE, a vibe of spiritual and sexual serenity.

Author Eternity Philops’ Visions is a beautiful view from which readers won’t be able to tear their eyes away. Excellent in its form, approach and creativity, Visions captures your senses. Both poetry and prose encompass this brilliant array of work that speaks to black lesbians everywhere. Its unique charm lies in Philops’ poems that clinch the mind with a metaphysical theme and her short stories that engage the heart.

Visions is categorized by three fragments titled Love, Loss and Life. The first, Love, captures the emotion and physical aspects of affection, with stories concerning unrequited love in “Almost First Kiss” and love beyond time in “Black Lace.” The poems in this section compliment these stories with an air of “Cosmic Intimacy.”

“Come soar with me
Be my love
We will stroll across a plateau of clouds,
Bathed in iridescent rays of sunlight
We shall picnic on the billowed hills of heaven,
As the soft rustle of God’s whispers blows gently
in our ears.”

The next section deals with the facet of Loss, as evidenced by the stories “Other Side of the Moon,” a tale of two women in love who never quite become one, and in “A Luncheon Scorned,” where a woman finally gives a former lover her just desserts. In this section, the poems underscore the feeling losing the most important thing in your life, as evidenced in “A Slight Wind.”

“Her whispered nothings are sweet
their smog a pollution
of my atmosphere
I’ve inhaled to deeply
the toxins of her tongue
Lungs full of a lover’s lies
I asphyxiate
for lack of pure clean truth”

In the final part of Visions, Philops writes about Life in its candor. In “Bait and Switch,” a con-woman finally meets her match and a workaholic learns there’s more to life than business in “An Affirmative Action.” The remainder of her poems in this section vary in themes from creation to dreams.

“Can I be your poet?
Can I write your journey
upon the eclipse of your soul
along the shadow of your benighted thoughts”

Philops’ Visions is a delight to read. It swiftly grabs you from page one, enveloping the reader in colorful and sensuous expressions that you won’t find in most Black lesbian novels. The poems are concise, inspired works of art that Philops has clearly mastered. The prose is mired in its every-woman appeal, making the reader both laugh and long for love. Philops, who wrote the first volume of over an extensive period and has plans for more, compares writing to opening the soul’s window, inviting you to see the view.

From reading Visions, the sight is quite exquisite.

Reviewed June 2008


Where the Apple Falls by Samiya Bashir

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Publisherwheretheapplefalls/Date:  RedBone Press, June 2005
Genre:  Poetry
Pages: 77
Website:  http://www.samiyabashir.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

WHERE THE APPLE FALLS is a lovely book full of poetry and prose. The book is written in a cyclical journey through seasons, femaleness and its relationship to nature. Through this style of writing, Bashir is able to impart to her readers the importance of all that she is writing about. The poems deal with elements such as sexuality, sexual perversion, love, lust, female genital cutting, and domesticity.

The book takes the reader on a journey through birth and death and back again through lyrical poetry. In the book, she writes about what it means to be female and how it relates to the environment. Using imagery of the environment and relating it to the seasons, the reader is able to see how Bashir related femaleness to nature. This is seen in the beginning poem “Moon Cycling” which sets the mood for the rest of the book.

Where the Apple Falls is broken down into three sections. With each progression of the sections, the book shows more and more raw emotion on the part of Bashir. Starting with the calm “Of Saints and Suppers” and climaxing at the titled work “Where the Apple Falls.”

Bashir’s book of poetry is a memorable read. Each of the poems in this book is poignant and powerful and fit for goddess readers.

If you enjoy reading the works of brilliant poets, this book definitely for you.

Reviewed December 2005 by Nina J. Davidson