Lyric Reviews AMERICA, MINE

“If you don’t know it, make it up.” Thus Sasha Banks implores Black Americans to reshape America in our own image in a poem from her first full-length book, AMERICA, MINE In a poem that echoes an exam-- either for school or for citizenship, Banks asks us to record what we remember of an America that has passed away into memory, throwing into doubt everything we thought we knew about history.

 

Banks’s poems and their historical ghosts populate the landscape of the south, chopping through kudzu, through terror, through humidity, wading across bayous, across the Mississippi Delta, making firewood of history. In a poem about haunting, historical Black figures rise from the dead, larger than life, and wreak havoc on institutions. Figures from American folklore are transformed by their previously untold stories.

 

Banks’s book launch took place online, over Instagram Live. Through the screen, her poems gripped her listeners as she plucked statues like cherries, tenderly guiding us through and beyond the end of an American era, and into a speculative future where we all heal from wounds. The journey will not be easy, that much is very true from the viscera of Banks’s brutally honest poems.  

 

Banks upends American Heroic history, remixes it, rewrites American history into Black mythology. Historical events are compressed, jumping hundreds of years, or lengthened impossibly, stretching millenia. Historical figures who lived in different times are meeting. America becomes a misunderstanding. 

 

Anger born of the unrelenting injustice against Black life in this country informs the poems of AMERICA, MINE. Throughout, Banks makes room for the reader to pick up and hold that anger too, even as it burns. She wants us to know that plenty still exists in this place after America’s end. There’s still 808’s, subwoofers, ghosts, hands, hoodies, joy, and laughter. It’s a lively, frightening, hopeful place.

America, Mine Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781947918047
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Co-Im-Press - April 24th, 2020

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