Monday, September 21, 2015
For the month of September, I got to tackle something new. I had the opportunity to review a wonderful book of poems, Musings of a Madman by Adam Levon Brown. I am so happy to have had the chance to do so! I am having trouble posting a picture of the cover as I normally do, so if blogspot cooperates, I will do so later.
This collection is well written and many of the poems are simply lovely. My favorites include: Dare to Dream, Ecocide, I Can't Breathe, Star Stuff, and Cinematic Bloodbath.
The main overarching themes of this collection are the importance of love, as well as living simply and learning to coexist peacefully with others. Many of the poems in this book focus on these themes. However, the author also includes several powerful pieces about a variety of issues, including racism, classism, war, police brutality, and white privilege.
The white privilege poem was especially interesting to me. Although I am not white and have never experienced this sort of privilege, my experiences in grad school at an HBCU made me very aware of the advantages that I do enjoy. I am part of what is known as the "model minority", which refers to Asians and South Asians. We are "well educated" and expected to become researchers, healthcare providers, and engineers.
It has been many years since India gained its independence, but the impact of British rule is still felt today. I've lost count of the number of times that I have heard members of my community casually remark on how darker skin is undesirable. It hurts to hear my brown classmates and coworkers say things to my black colleagues that were undeniably insulting. When called out on it, of course, they always become defensive and angry - how could I possibly think they were racist?
Brown repeatedly brings up the point that if we stay silent, we can hardly expect things to change. I am not perfect, but I will continue to try to make those around me aware of the advantages that we have as the more favorable minority, despite the fact that our skin tone is hardly different from that of Africans and African Americans. We need to do better by using this advantage to help other persons of color who are at a disadvantage.
As I have seen repeatedly during my interactions with patients and staff during my career so far, stereotypes are incredibly harmful. Cancer, Heart Attacks, Alcoholism, Sexually Transmitted Diseases - they do not discriminate. The middle aged Caucasian man in my clinic is as likely to be abusing narcotics as the young black male. The elderly grandma may be an alcoholic. If I didn't routinely screen everyone for many of these issues, regardless of age, race, class, level of income or education, I would not be doing my duty.
In technical terms, the book was well formatted and well edited. I only noticed a few typos. I enjoyed that poems were written in different styles - some felt more like songs while others were more intense and written in short, hard-hitting sentences. Brown switches back and forth between lighter and darker themes, which worked well. This kept me engaged and didn't allow me to become overwhelmed by the heavier subjects.
To sum up, this was a wonderful read. I would love to read more from this author!
My Rating: 4 stars
Happy reading and stay tuned for my second September book review!