The portrait that emerges over these clear, inviting poems is of a man dedicated to creating a better world than the one he had to endure. Griffin draws powerful connections between everyday life and the brutality of history in poems like “Cooking,” in which the “fine perfection” and “rich flavor” of food that draws on family legacy is the root of deeper truths: “From enslaved African to Choctaw ancestry, / Soul food has danced alongside genealogy,” he writes, noting that “Flames of hate boiled the roux of miscegenation.” “Cooking” concludes, though, in a celebration of ancestry, of the sense of handed-down recipes guiding him now, and of how act of preparing and sharing food links past and present.
The nourishment of connection also proves a recurring theme, often suggesting a balm for cruelty and prejudice. (The “wound” of the title is living, after all.) “Poetic Love” imagines “a garden that nourishes two as one,” just as “A Hug” contemplates a moment of “brief, beautiful, and fleeting” connection from a stranger. “So please just hold me as I am, a second longer,” Griffin writes, in a late poem that could serve as a capstone for this accessible, emotionally direct collection that should resonate with any reader of personal yet highly relatable free verse.
Takeaway: Accessible, emotionally direct poems centered on the urgent power of human connection.
Great for fans of: Rickey Laurentiis, Danez Smith.
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