City of Bones: A Testament by Kwame Dawes ARC REVIEW

City of Bones: A Testament by Kwame Dawes
Published by Triquarterly
Expected publication date 15 January 2017
232 pages

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NETI received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.


As if convinced that all divination of the future is somehow a re-visioning of the past, Kwame Dawes reminds us of the clairvoyance of haunting. The lyric poems in City of Bones: A Testament constitute a restless jeremiad for our times, and Dawes’s inimitable voice peoples this collection with multitudes of souls urgently and forcefully singing, shouting, groaning, and dreaming about the African diasporic present and future.

As the twentieth collection in the poet’s hallmarked career, City of Bones reaches a pinnacle, adding another chapter to the grand narrative of invention and discovery cradled in the art of empathy that has defined his prodigious body of work. Dawes’s formal mastery is matched only by the precision of his insights into what is at stake in our lives today. These poems are shot through with music from the drum to reggae to the blues to jazz to gospel, proving that Dawes is the ambassador of words and worlds.


From Steaking Home

My ailing father
Listening to the crickets
Last day of August…


I really enjoyed City of Bones which was my first time reading this poet. The poems are beautiful, almost haunting. Dawes offers just the right shades of light and dark in this collection. The poems are lyrical, narrative and powerful, packed with images and ideas that took my breath away. Among my favourites were Man Smells, What’s Left, Hope’s Legacy, News From Harlem, Art and The White Man’s Burden. All of the poems are excellent but I enjoyed these a bit more. Overall, City of Bones is a powerful collection of poems. I’d highly recommend it.




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