Thursday, November 20, 2014

Molly Lynn Watt's "On Wings of Song" flies high

Molly Lynn Watt's "On Wings of Song" flies high

 Review by Bert Stern

 To order go to  Wings of Song

 "On Wings of Song" ( Ibbetson Street Press) is a clear-eyed account of racial oppression in the US and of the people, black and white, who struggled to end it. What gives the book its special authenticity is the point of view, which is intimate – a positioning of the narrator’s eye gained by Watt’s own lifelong efforts in the struggle.

 While the book is historical, it is also lyrical. “Crayola World begins:

 Robin draws sky-blue arches
 burnt orange sun sepia earth sprouts
 maroon father strums raw-umber guitar
 bittersweet mother hold pink flower
 purple sister suck plum thumb.

 And it ends when the child-artist

 . . . picks up black
 draws herself in the center
 that’s me
 the most beautifulest.

 Bushels full of poems have been written about Billy Holiday, but Watt’s “Billy Holiday Sings “Strange Fruit” tops them all. It begins with a close-up picture of Billy herself, and ends, in an astonishing shift, with a first-hand account of an observer’s experience at a lynching.

 "On Wings of Song" is canonic. It restores for all of us the beating heart of an evolving conscience that may never be complete.

-- Bert Stern, author of Silk," "Steerage," and "Winter in China".

1 comment:

  1. Wendell Smith1:23 PM

    It is also a compelling read because it is a coherent narrative of a single racist event and its consequences for the narrator. I nibbled at the beginning several times but when I picked it up in earnest I didn't put it down until I had finished it. It is that rare poem (I think it is a poetic sequence, comprehended in its entirety) that is a page turner turner. --Wendell Smith