Tag Archives: Afaa Michael Weaver

City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

citySeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (September 17, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963256

ISBN-13: 978-0822963257

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Reviewed by g emil reutter 

Afaa Michael Weaver, son of a sharecropper, soldier, factory worker, professor. He has traveled a unique road, a road carved out and built by Weaver himself.  He presents us with poetry that is grounded yet spiritual. City of Eternal Spring is the concluding book of a trilogy that includes The Plum Flower Dance and The Government of Nature.
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The poems in this collection present the reader with a blending of American rearing and Chinese spiritualism.
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From the 2nd stanza of the poem Recognition:
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I am you sitting in chairs, memories coming back
to fill my bones with you, inform the way I get about,
growing old little by little, trying to enlarge the circles
of mother and father and son, the circles my mother made
for me in the pain of bringing me back from breakdowns
so I can see my birth…
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A beautiful stanza reflecting life itself in Weaver’s view. In the chair, memories filling bones, growing old little by little, enlarging circles, freed from breakdowns, born again.
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Weaver’s poem MRT about trains and subways and travel gently brings us to another place, unexpected, our arrival not physical at all.
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From the 2nd stanza of the poem MRT:
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Being is filling the sack of something, knowing
yourself as a space, having mind take over
everything, ignoring the tubes and liquids
that give it something to drive, the mind driving,
stopped only by pain, and the train keeps pain
away from us, as perfect a machine as Chinese
genius can make, no undue slap against the rails
like Boston’s T, or the horror of underground
cities in New York. This is the Swiss ticking
of time in a life where I hide in the language,
bury myself in memorizing a writing that is
the opposite of abc, an American born color
like blackness, a curtain holding itself over me
a talking mirror that lets these staring eyes believe
what American hatred would teach them with
it disciples living here, the white minds who
spread the sickness of the place where I was born.
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City of Eternal Spring is a bold collection from Afaa Michael Weaver. As he embraces spiritualism, Weaver always has two feet firmly planted in the American experience as he has lived it.

 

Check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/City-Eternal-Spring-Pitt-Poetry/dp/0822963256/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411581449&sr=1-1&keywords=city+of+eternal+spring+by+afaa+michael+weaver

 

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g-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

A Hard Summation by Afaa Michael Weaver

a hardPaperback: 44 pages

Publisher: Central Square Press (July 18, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1941604005

ISBN-13: 978-1941604007

Reviewed by Doug Holder

It is always a pleasure to get a new book published by a new local press. A colleague of mine at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Enzo Silo Surin, the founder of the Central Square Press, has published a new book of poetry (A Hard Summation) by poet and Somerville resident Afaa Michael Weaver. Weaver is a professor at Simmons College in Boston, and recently won the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Award. He has penned a collection of 13 poems that cover the history of African- Americans from the Middle Passage to the present day. Weaver’s intention, according to Surin, is to give the reader, “an opportunity to listen, celebrate, commemorate, and appreciate the success and failures of the past in order to develop a current and contextual understanding of what it means to be an African-American.”

In the poem “In Charleston, the Slave Market” Weaver gives us the visceral feel of a human being, being treated like a shank of beef by prospective slave brokers. Like the slaves, the poem is stripped down and naked, with powerful short bursts of metaphorical language:

“…the markets where they stand naked,
white women poking at them, looking over places
only mothers should touch, shopping for black pets
for white children, for girls who can grow and make
more black children, as it they are gardens…”

The two part poem “Migration, the Big Cities” concerns the thoughts of a husband and wife about their exodus from the sweaty, unforgiving fields of the South, to the Northern industrial cities, with their relative freedom and broader horizons. Weaver, attuned to the telling detail gives us the before and after with crystal clear brushstrokes. Here the husband thinks of his new life with his wife and the past he left behind:

“ Steelworker now, ain’t no farmer no more.
met my wife in the  mills, not a juke joint floor.
I got a time clock to punch and work shoes too,
no mule to prance behind and feed hay to chew.

My dreams touch the sky and tickle heaven
as we forget the night riders and the evils of men,
while we save money for our little house
where we can feed our children a plate of souse.”

Weaver, a respected academic, was a factory worker in Baltimore for many years.  He knows his lineage and was part of the next generation of African-Americans to leave their blue-collar jobs to join the professional class. It is amazing what Weaver can do with thirteen poems. But a top shelf poet, with an economy of words, can create a whole world, a whole history for his reader. Weaver has achieved this.

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You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Summation-Afaa-Michael-Weaver/dp/1941604005

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doug-Doug Holder is a Boston Poet and publishes the widely read Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene Blog. He is the publisher of Ibbetson Books, hosts a community access show in Somerville, Mass. among the many activities he engages in the good name of poetry. http://dougholder.blogspot.com/

This review was first published at The Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene.