Book 34: The Dogs I Have Kissed by Trista Mateer

This is a brief review because I am a little burned out on writing for the day, I’ve gotten over eight pages and three poems done today, be kind to my poor little fingers.

I fell in love with Mateer’s writing on the first page. Coincidentally enough, I started reading her work while I was waiting for a very late date (he showed up an hour and fifteen late, I’d already split to finish the book at home and brood).

Her imagery and emotion are incredible; if you’d like to know more about my favorite elements, you can view my highlights here. Her writing speaks for itself.

I’d definitely say that her writing has feminist themes; she writes a lot on sex, loss, and family.

The Dogs I Have Kissed

I give this book a solid 9/10, I would definitely recommend it!

Happy reading,
Scarlett

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Free Downloads from ReadColor

Free Downloads from ReadColor

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I can vouch for both authors being absolutely PHENOMENAL!

I’ve read all three books, each is stunning and the authors truly convey their messages in a wonderful way.

The Kindle app is free, I believe you can also download it through laptops etc. (kindle reader access online from anywhere).

If you’re looking for a numerical rating, I give all three books a 10/10.

I will be posting my regularly scheduled book review late Friday evening; I’m a bit behind on reading, though I can go ahead and tell you it’s a Toni Morrison novel in honor of her 85th birthday (2/18). 

 

Five Modern Poets of Color to Read and Reread

This list is in no particular order. 

The quotes listed in closing for each description will come from the beginning of the author’s book; for authors with two publications, I will be sure to indicate which text.

Nayyirah Waheed

Waheed is excellent;  salt. was her first book, if I’m not mistaken, and it was my favorite of the two. Her description of race and her pride are poignant. She writes of love, loss, ethnicity, race, and community just to name a few. Both books are full of stunning works, and her generosity is how I was able to download nejma, bone, and Zimbabwe for free on salt.’s one year anniversary.

I would definitely suggest following all five of these authors on twitter and instagram. That’s where the news was for free downloads, and all of these stunning artists share work on social media fairly regularly. That’s probably the best way to get a good sampling of their works and see their personality before investing in their books, if you’re feeling thrifty.

“it was only ever love.” -salt.

Twitter

Instagram

salt. on Amazon

nejma on Amazon

Yrsa Daley Ward

Ward writes in a way that compels the reader to turn each page for fear of missing the next glint of pure light that she pours into the page. She is Jamaican and Nigerian, raised in England. Her writing blends those cultures beautifull, providing some perspective on her life and the way that each influence affected her.

bone contains some prose, which can be quite refreshing when breezing through a book as compelling as hers is. Taking a break, reading a slower page like that truly does show the versatility of her writing style. The title of the book is fitting for the nature of her writing; we are looking at the bones of who she is.

“because writing is a soft and a hard place, all at once.”

Twitter

Instagram

bone of Amazon

Rupi Kaur

I remember waiting for Milk and Honey to be released. I downloaded the preview on kindle long before I bought the book itself, and I followed her Instagram page religiously. Kaur truly captivates her audience through passionate and powerful writing, and through her gorgeous artwork. The sketches that some of her poems live inside of or are adorned with set her apart, and I honestly wouldn’t mind having my body covered in her artwork.

The four chapters that Kaur separates her poetry into are each like concentrated forms of the chapter title. The hurting deals with intense topics such as child-molestation, rape, loss, and pain. Reading it is like a swift punch that lasts for nearly forty pages. The loving is stunning; I remember quite frankly what an emotional relief it was to be pulled out of the dark place that the hurting put me in and to read those beautiful poems full of joy and love. The breaking was again, quite honestly hurts. We feel her loss, we are pulled through the rut of being left and feeling the ache that the loss leaves behind. The healing ends the book on a soft, sweet, inspirational note that never comes across as sappy. I thoroughly enjoyed every emotion that Kaur pulled me through, and I couldn’t put the book down until I’d felt it all.

Kaur writes about her Sikh heritage quite frequently, and even informs readers on how being bilingual shaped the way that she punctuates her work. She is based in Toronto, Canada. Her Instagram is often loaded with poetry, conversation, and other artwork.

Twitter

Instagram

Milk and Honey on Amazon

Tapiwa Mugabe

As the only man on my list, Mugabe stands out as an extraordinary writer on gender and family structure. He frequently writes on being similar to his mother, someone he loves dearly, and on how he doesn’t understand the way that his father and other men disaprove of his feminine qualities.

I selected him because his writing offers a different perspective, and one that is refreshing. A challenge to masculinity is so valuable, especially in such male-centric societies, and his willingness to write so openly about it is astounding.

“Ndinotenda Nayirrah and Yrsa for seeing this book in me when I was full of doubt, for sharing this wonderful journey with me.”

Twitter

Instagram

Zimbabwe

Warsan Shire

Shire is Somali-British, and she definitely writes with emotion. I can’t begin to convey how breath-taking her work is. She was the first poet on this list that I read; her title jumped out at me, and I could reread her work a million times.

She includes notes in the back of the book to help readers understand the terms and references she sprinkled throughout, a thoughtful touch. Her frequent references to Islam show her strength in faith and help to beautifully illustrate the intricacies of her personality.

Shire doesn’t provide much biographical information in her book, though she managed to write an entire book that is so raw it might as well have been carved into flesh.

“I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.” -Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

Twitter

Instagram

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth on Amazon

Her Blue Body on Amazon

Her Blue Body is the only work on this list that I don’t personally own. I have read all other works on this list and would recommend them to anyone who admires poetry, modern poetry, African poetry, millennial poetry, stories from People of Color, feminist poetry, and writing on race. All are available in print or via ebook.

As a writer myself, I can also deeply appreciate their poems which deal with the subject of writing. Most, if not all, of these writers discuss the act of writing and the nature of poetry through their own poems. Such a task can often come across as cliche or trope-y, but their work reads organically even in those cases.

Books 1-5

As I’m starting this blog late in the year, I’ll go ahead and lump my first five books of the year into one long post. Bear with me, it crosses multiple genres and it will be lengthy.

Book 1: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin

Genre: Poetry

Lin’s poetry was very different from anything I’d read before. I was definitelly surprised by the choices he made as far as personification and imagery. This book was good in that it was unique, but it was also a little hard to follow in some parts.

The harder to follow poems often flowed through multiple pages, without clear titles aside from in the table of contents. Though the resource was available, it was inconvenient at best.

Lin’s writing definitely does speak on mental illness, something that I can appreciate due to having been diagnosed recently with three illnesses of my own. His title alone deals specifically with a type of therapy that has recently grown in popularity.

I’d give this book a 6/10.

Link to buy through Amazon

Book 2: Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov 

Genre: Self-Help / Relationships

I’ll admit, I was fairly skeptical when I picked this up. It had been on my Amazon wishlist for over a year and I finally purchased it a few weeks ago.

Argov definitely over-simplifies gender roles and reinforces the ideas of masculinity and femininity to an annoying point. Her comparison of men to various animals and women to various animals was quite ridiculous, and undeniably this entire book was heteronormative.

There were some points about relationship behavior and not being too giving of oneself that might stick with me. I’ve always had a tendency to be a ‘doormat,’ as Argov would say. Her idea that every relationship would work the same way is also flawed.

Overall, though I learned from this book, itwas a reminder that no self-help book will teach me a whole concept that works for everyone;.

I’d give it a 4/10.

Link to buy through Amazon

Book 3: bone by Yrsa Daley Ward

Genre: Poetry

It’s kind of cheating because I’d already started this beauty, but I finished up bone as my third book this year. Ward is one of a slew of African poets that have captivated my attention lately.

I have the ebook and was lucky to download it during one of the free downloads that she did in collaboration with a few peers in celebration of one of their book’s first anniversary.

10/10 would definitely recommend.

Link to buy through Amazon

Book 4: Zimbabwe by Tapiwa Mugabe

Genre: Poetry

Clearly I’m on an African millennial poetry kick. I hadn’t read Mugabe’s work before, but he and a few of my favorites are a close-knit group so I had high hopes that were definitely met and exceeded. #4 was a quick read, but certainly a beautiful collection of poetry.

The way that he writes about gender and masculinity is stunning. His relationship with his mother and sisters was beautifully written, and his poems about growing up in Zimbabwe were packed with imagery.

10/10 would definitely recommend.

Link to buy through Amazon

Book 5: Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

Genre: Self-Help / Personal Growth

Brace yourselves, I have lots of thoughts here…

First off, TW for misgendering and deadnaming of trans people, specifically Caitlyn Jenner (this book even includes a brief chapter on her transition which includes the aforementioned issues). I was highly disappointed in that entire situation, and I don’t think is excusable.

Khloé spends a good chunk of the book discussing the gym and getting in shape, something that I don’t necessarily relate well to, but she also discusses healthy eating, which I definitely have been more interested in lately. I especially enjoyed the recipes she shared, and the fact that she doesn’t suggest a clear- cut zero tolerance for indulgence lifestyle. Her choices are definitely relatable diet-wise and I have made some small lifestyle goals related to food based on her writing. However, I seriously doubt I’ll be joining a gym any time soon. For some reason, I thought this book was more pointed towards body positivity, which is what peaked my interest in it, but it wasn’t.

I will say one thing about her writing that I think might leave a lasting impression on mine: she speaks about avoiding negativity and whining, though in many places her writing is laced with it. Khloé mentions dozens of friends and family members, some by name, in a negative light. She doesn’t spare them; as a writer I don’t necessarily believe that she should spare them, but I don’t think every slam was totally necessary either. I don’t want my writing to come across that way.

My overall thoughts are that it wasn’t an entire waste of time/money, and I will keep it for the recipes if nothing else, but most of that is because of my writing observations.

It’s definitely not considerably feminist due to the serious issues with deadnaming and misgendering, and I didn’t appreciate the gossipy girl-on-girl hate vibe I got.

I’d give it a 3/10.

Link to buy through Amazon

In conclusion: I’ll be updating the blog with more books as I finish them, as well as posting frequently about other feminist and literary topics. I have two posts in the making and I’m starting a new book tomorrow!