Monday, December 01, 2008
An Apron Full Of Beans
New and Selected Poems
by Sam Cornish
CavanKerry Press Ltd., Softbound, $16, Copyright © 2008 by Sam Cornish
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
Sam Cornish is a unique, powerful and singular voice. He is an African-American who writes about his people past, present, fictional and celluloid. He is at times an angry writer, but not an angry person, in fact, in person, is almost shy.
Cornish’s America is not at all pretty or complimentary. On the contrary, he gets to the grit of slavery, segregation and how blacks were portrayed in the cinema.
There is, for example, the three line poem Runaway Song that sums up a slave’s thoughts:
bird in the air
eyes above the tree
Negro goes north
And the longer Harriet Brings Runaways North which ends:
Walk them easy
Don’t Leave them Behind
In Cornish’s book you will meet Harriet (Tubman), murdered teen Emmett Till, movie star Dorothy Dandridge, great singers Ruth Brown and Billie Holiday, writers Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, and fictional characters like Nat Turner just to name a few. You will meet white men who kill blacks for no reason, or for some perceived white reason.
Most of all you will meet powerful, compelling poetry that does not preach, but delivers a powerful message about who we were, who we are and what “they” think of “us.”
There are so many great poems packed into 173 pages of An April Full Of Beans it is truly difficult to have a favorite poem, but if I have to pick one it is not about slavery, hate, love, the movies or fictional characters. It is about Cornish’s grandmother:
When My Grandmother Died
An Apron Full Of Beans is one great book poetry. Sam Cornish, who is the City of Boston’s First Poet Laureate shows why he was selected and what an outstanding poet he is. This book is highly recommended and deserving of widespread recognition and reading.
--Zvi A. Sesling * Zvi A. Sesling is the founder of The Muddy River Review and a regular reviewer for "The Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene"