The Skinny Poetry Anthology Edited by Truth Thomas
Review by Rosetta Codling, Ph.D.
The Ski NNY (2019) is the latest issue from Cherry Castle Publishing. It is, by far, the most lyrically aesthetic from the house of Cherry Castle. Truth Thomas is the creator of the Skinny genre. It is, perhaps, an urban haiku, framed in eleven volcanic lines which surge forth. The eleventh line and the last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line. The composer, Truth Thomas, does lend liberty to rearrangement. But the second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. Thomas, also, stresses that: “All the lines in his form, except for the first and last lines, must be composed of a single word.”
Does this all sound daunting? Yes. Is it difficult to achieve? Yes. However, the subjects of these harmonious creations are the more tedious to bear witness to. Yet, the poets in this collection do so fearlessly.
“the glint of gas oven or America’s Concentration Camps” (with acknowledgment to “who” by Sylvia Plath) is the opening ‘sonata poem’ of this collection. This poem is disarming and starkly real. Debasis Mukhopadhyay is a poet true to his mentor Sylvia Plath. The words drip and drape across the page conveying the erosion of the human spirit. In short, terse, verse, America is indicted for crimes against humanity on a single page of history.
“Jail Cell Diaries” is an entry in this collection that invades the soul in variation mode. This poem is a chronicle of 21 days of unjust incarceration. The varied repetition of words, in each stanza, are branded upon the page for the reader. “Freely…free…delirium…cry…sleep…dropped…guiltocent…dropped” are the words which descend upon the reader, slowly. Jen Schneider, the poet, paints an image that lingers long after the cell doors…open and close, again.
But, this collection is not without wit. Pam Desloges’ “Skinny Skinny” reminds the reader what lies beneath the meter and the meaning of a poem. She entreats us to explore the “nouns” and “bony verbs” absorbed in a text. She uses food imagery to aid in our envisioning of “low-carb adjectives” that are consumed in sectional, lean forms.
This collection is a whole. This collection is in harmony. This collection stands alone. Thank you, Truth Thomas, for delivering truths in many lyrical tones.
Rosetta Codling is a freelance literary critic. She has written reviews for the Ama Books, the Manhattan Book Review, the San Francisco Book Review, the Journal of African Literature, Autres Modernites, and Examiner.com. She has obtained scholarships and fellowships from Queens College (NYC), Teachers College/Columbia University (NYC), and the Open University (UK). She retired (in 2006) as a secondary school teacher and Adjunct Professor of English for over 30 years in New York. However, she attends global conferences and continues to write professionally. In addition, she now is an Adjunct Associate Professor of English at Herzing University in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Shaggy Flores, Nuyorican Poet/Scholar)
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