Announcing Book 31: Grayish-Black by Devyn Springer

It’s a true blessing to be able to review a book written by a friend, and Devyn Springer has been one for a few years. We met as students at Kennesaw State, and participated in some of the same student organizations working towards a better, brighter future for marginalized groups in our society. Aside from poetry, Springer works heavily within activist communities in Atlanta. He’s also a photographer; you can find some of his work at Urban Soul Atlanta, as well as between the pages of his stunning debut work.

As this is Springer’s debut collection, I feel especially privileged to have had the opportunity to read it and review it ahead of time. I received a document of the inner contents of the book in July and read it in August in order to provide potential quotes for his first printing. I’ve had this post sidelined until I was given the go ahead to post it last night.

The book was set to release on Amazon on September 1st, 2016. An interesting turn of events has lead to it being released today instead! 

Springer writes poetry that evokes emotion; his subjects range from race, gender, and sexuality to love, passion and many more. I truly enjoyed the collection, yet I saw a good bit of growing room in a few places. I expect that we’ll see quite a bit more from Springer in the future. There are dozens of stunning poems within the pages of this book, and they truly reflect his thirst for justice and change.

One unique element of the book is the interlacing of Springer’s photography; often self portraits and images that he has poured a great deal of work into. It’s rare that we find such a multimedia publication that doesn’t come across as somewhat trite, yet Springer avoids melodrama in most instances and interlaces beautiful photographs that encompass emotion as diverse as his writing. I especially appreciated that his photographs weren’t all self portraits, and that his inclusive strategy spotlighted women of color in multiple instances.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the few sketches and handwritten lines that Springer incorporated; I was reminded immediately of Rupi Kaur’s stunning illustrations and the incorporation of Tupac Shakur’s handwritten poetry in The Rose that Grew from Concrete. Organic is the first word that comes to mind here, as it should be.

The poems that he has titled have fitting titles, and those lacking titles don’t need them in most instances. I think my greatest critiques would deal with the overuse of the word love and the occasional cliche. In some instances Springer’s emotion was too forthright for my taste which in turn read as less organic than he is capable of. Still, I couldn’t put it down and read the entire collection in one sitting.

I give this book an 8/10 and look forward to more of his works in the future.

ISBN: 1534909613
ISBN-13: 978-1534909618

Happy reading,
Scarlett

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A Birthday Remembrance for Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is my favorite author, hands down. I adore her candor, and I find her stories inspirational in that they are organic and honest. 

  

Image credit: Mayaangelou.com 



For Friday I’ll be reviewing All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes which I’m enjoying so far. I wanted to go ahead and mention her today, as it is her birthday. 

Follow this link for some inspirational quotes from Angelou. 

Author Spotlight: Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is an excellent writer, and he’s a man who writes excellent women. I know, women are complex and interesting just like men, but it’s not often that you find a man who writes women who are as complex and strong as Lamb’s are.

Lamb’s female characters are not all “strong women” in their physical or emotional strength. He writes flawed women, women with skeletons in their closets, and women who face a myriad of feminist issues.

Some of the issues being:
Mental Illness
Eating Disorders
Relationships (Healthy and not)
Family Conflicts
Women’s Prisons
Mass Shootings
and more…

 

WALLY LAMBImage credit: hereandnow.wbur.org

I haven’t read any statements that outright affirm that Lamb is a feminist, but you can find many of his books on feminist lists on the web. I’ve read I Know this Much is True, She’s Come Undone, and The Hour I First Believed. My favorite is definitely The Hour I First Believed, and it was my first. I read it the Summer before my senior year of highschool, and I loved Lamb’s ability to encompass so many issues and themes in one book. His books are generally lengthy, but they’re quick reads because he keeps the reader so enthralled. I love his writing, I love his ability to write such stunning characters, and I love his style.

I’m looking forward to reading We are Water and Wishin and Hopin’ as the year progresses. I’ll read Wishin’ and Hopin’ close to Christmas, but I expect to pick up We are Water much sooner.

I plan on picking up a few of his nonfiction works soon as well. He shares stories from the women of York Prison, something that sparks my interests.

If you’re interested in Lamb’s books, give the following link a click and browse his works on Amazon.

Wally Lamb

Author Spotlight: Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins writes very uniquely formatted YA novels, some of which read like poetry, some of which read like the shards of the broken lives that she’s describing. Her writing is intense, almost uncomfortably so, and I think that that’s how writing should be. She conveys emotion and sets up the tone for novels that truly stand out from her peers. Hopkins is in no way my favorite author, but she definitely stood out when I was looking for my first author spotlight candidate.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read one of Hopkins’s novels in several years, but they still stuck out in my mind. I haven’t read all of her work, I remember reading Crank (deals with meth addiction)  in middle or high school, and I recall being devastated by Identical (deals with molestation/sexual abuse) and enjoying Burned (deals with religion) around the same time. A few other titles she’s well known for are Glass (sequel to Crank), Impulse (dealing with mental illness/hospitalization), and Tricks (dealing with sex-work/prostitution). Fallout (third book in the Crank trilogy) and Perfect (deals with the concept of perfection/coming of age) are two newer novels she’s written that I haven’t seen much about, likely due to being out of the YA scene for a while.

authorphoto-e1315801199400

Image credit: EllenHopkins.com

You can visit Ellen Hopkins’s site for resources, she has categories for Teachers, Students, and Writers. On her site you’ll also find info on appearances that she’ll be making, her poetry, videos, and brief descriptions of her books.

I chose to feature Hopkins because of her subject matter combined with her frequent use of young women as protagonists. Hopkins doesn’t write uber inspirational stories, they are often very gritty and otherwise hard to stomach, and they bring attention to issues that some parents or teachers feel uncomfortable discussing. As a reader you can definitely see that the subject matter alone is very socially-charged, and in many ways feminist. With a heightened look at the intersectional issues, we see Hopkins address privilege, religious background, mental illness, abuse, sex work and other feminist issues in a way that doesn’t bombard younger readers with too much sociological information at once.

Links to buy Hopkins’s books can be found on her website, online bookstores, and Amazon (as follows).

Ellen Hopkins Novels