Saturday, September 6, 2008

"She's Gone" Writes Kwame Dawes

Reggae Virgin
could fly
over the cottage
over the beach
over Dorothy.

With Dorothy
Nothing was free of complication.

full of purpose
the prancing prophet,
a preacher
with a nice
mellow tone.

Keisha couldn't reduce him to a moment.

a messiah, Joseph,
knows what it feels like
to die.
He wants to tell the secret of
his fear
his fantasy
but grows silent in the darkness.

Nothing is free of complication;
sex, dorothy, keisha, music, the medication,
Jamaica (I thought all they had was beaches and that).

Reggae Virgin
could fly
leaving this place
the darkness
the burning sensation
into the brilliant
light of a new day.

Above is a poem I "found" in the 2007 novel by Kwame Dawes. You can find your own poems in novels or short excerpts too. Here is how: handpick words or phrases relating to a character or theme, lay them out carefully, line by line in (usually in the order they appear in the text) and you have "found" yourself a poem. My poem gives a silhouette of the protaganist, Kofi.

Contrary to what you might believe from the ending of my poem Kofi doesn't commit suicide, but it seemed to me that suicide would have been the logical end for him, not the unlikely reunion with Keisha. The contrived ending and the sex scenes that were a tad more than I needed to picture, especially the one with Leonara, are the biggest turn-offs. Also, he took a couple of jibes at a particular segment of the African Diaspora that were a little below the belt.

But I enjoyed the the vivid evocation of Jamaica and parts of North America. It was easy to follow the characters around the island, I nodded at some of the social commentary, my mouth actually watered at the description of some of the foods, especially, tamarinds. I also enjoyed trying to puzzle out with Dawes the universal question of "what do men and women really want from each other?" In addition, I like novels that try to get inside the head of people who are mentally ill and I thought Dawes did a good job in his rendering of Kofi's depression.

Overall, I think She's" Gone reveals talent that some honing will make distinct. I'm looking forward to his second novel.


Daisy Soap Girl said...

Jackie you read and review such great books. I always want to read them.

Jacqueline Smith said...

What a lovely compliment, thanks Daisy. This is all an experiment. Some of my posts about books come out as literary criticism and some as book reviews, and some a cross between the two. Sometimes I worry that I've given away too much about what's inside a book, spoiling the fun for would be readers.

Geoffrey said...

Jackie...this is the second time I've seen you writing about this book.

I made a discovery today...I can buy it over here too. Yippee! Amazon now has my order...I've been searching out extracts here and there to read and Kwame Dawes work feels to me that it is so evocative of a real living Jamaica...and not just the pop culture and dream imagery we are served up over here. The part of the book you gave us here has such great lyricism, I could almost hear the beat of music as I read it. This particular book looks strong on social insights too. You already know how much I enjoy those! :-)

Thanks for your review, and the introduction to another great book. I know I'll really enjoy reading it.

Walk good then,


Jacqueline Smith said...


Do come back and let's talk about it once you've read it.