I Wore My Blackest Hair by Carlina Duan (Poetry)

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Summary: This book of poetry focuses around life as a Chinese-American. Carlina’s poetry collection shows that her divided race influences every aspect of her life, from her romantic relationships to her relationship with her family. She shows the love, anger, frustration and feeling of isolation which touches all aspects of her life.

My thoughts: Despite teaching poetry most days of the week I rarely read it for fun as I find it difficult, or I think I do. Poetry I normally associate with teaching or studying, dissecting it bit by bit and re-churning it out in essay format. It was nice to read this collection just for fun, and no English Literature degree is needed to understand this collection.

A lot of the poems in the collection focus on her relationship with her parents, a relationship with a language and cultural barrier at times. In the initial poems she recounts an argument with her father and calling her mother a bitch, yet later on she talks about the fierce pride she holds for her mother. The most touching image in these poems is of her father, who she appears to have the most battles with, polishing her passport.

Whilst the relationship with her parents often focuses on language we see that their are traits which she associates with different people, with her sister a shared American pop-culture and with partners food. In fact food, and the mouth, are recurring images throughout this collection.

Duan experiments with style and form, some poems are written in verse, others make use of the white space on a page, very few use capitals and the slash is often used to replace other punctuation or pauses. But don’t let this scare you off, it adds to the pace and enjoyment of this collection.

Highly readable and at the moment, in England at least, this is a bargain on kindle.
I read this copy for free thanks to Netgalley. Professional Reader

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