- Publisher: BookBaby (July 26, 2022)
- Language: English
- Paperback: 130 pages
- ISBN-10: 1667851071
- ISBN-13: 978-1667851075
- Genre: Black & African American Poetry
The BookViral Review:
Following on from his excellent poetry collection ‘Situationship’ which was recognised by the 2020 North Street Book Prize, Osamase Ekhator offers us ‘I Am You’, an anthology of works dissecting love, religion and social injustice.
A trailblazer for equality, equity and empowerment, Ekhator uses his poetic gift to create bridges between the chasms left by the discriminatory and unjust treatment meted out by humans upon one another. Drilling down into minds and motivations, Ekhator strips away cotton wool fluff and exposes the fragilities and strengths of human nature and society, not only in matters of race but of decency and genuineness.
Ekhator’s poems starkly plunge the reader into the world of what it is to be black in American society. In the cleverly constructed ‘Virgin’, continuing, subtle racialism is highlighted within a lived experience of school, whilst ‘Countdown’ and ‘The only coloured crayons in the class’, highlight the shocking disparities in the treatment of young black youth in the education system.
Expanding towards macro society, Ekhator succinctly sums up the lethargy of historic change with his telling line “Martin is still seen on our screens, yet the country is still sleeping without your dream” and the hope for real change in the future “to deny their bullets from ever seeing the light of day, on the darkest of skin”, and seeking justice from ‘lunch lady liberty’. Evidently, each offering expresses mindful meditation of deep emotion and resulting thought patterns, which insightfully cut straight to the issues addressed, such as inter-racial tension and the hypocrisy of racial misappropriation.
Whilst ‘I Am You’ challenges understanding and promotes reflection surrounding intolerance and bias, it also bridges the racial divide in a shared bond of love, worship and resilience, and addresses modern issues which impact all who are trying to find their way in love. Insta-story is one such poem, with its powerful message that love is, in its purest form an intensely personal and private emotion, and his clever ‘I get around ‘22’, which warns of love’s many twists, turns and pitfalls.
Culminating in the beautiful ‘Mr Brown in Boston’, Ekhator reminds us it is the responsibility of all to contribute to the collective voice of unity. But perhaps the most haunting poem is ‘Black Roses (walking down the street)’ which starkly but tenderly presents the lived reality of racism in stark relief.
A beautiful five-star collection of exquisitely crafted prose I Am You is unreservedly recommended.