Book Review: Strange Fruit by The Left Side Poets

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be emailed the advanced copy of Strange Fruit. I had met one of the contributing authors, Ronald Clark, through another one of my Twitter followers. I haven’t really picked up a poetry book since I was through with college, but because Ronald had poured his heart and soul into it and because I had heard so much about Strange Fruit, I read it.

Strange Fruit is the best compilation of poetry I have read. In one word, it’s POWERFUL.  English professors should be using this book when they teach their courses. I would have loved to have been able to study a book like this in college. In fact, Strange Fruit brought the English major out in me. I was immediately in my purse looking for a pen to note stellar stanzas and lines, note alliteration and identify my favorite parts to share with you.

Even if you aren’t into poetry, I would recommend everyone read this book. It has something for everyone. Each poet’s lyrical key and themes are found at the beginning of the book, which I found a very useful tool.

Much of the content is raw and the poets do not hold back. The group came together during Hampton University’s Black Heritage Extravaganza and much of the content revolves around black history and the identity of being African American. I think a great example of this rawness is in Unchanged by S. Velvet Noose:

“My ancestors were the closest thing to a Christ:/A pendant on a chain/Lassoed around the necks of branches.”

Some of my other favorites include: 80′s Baby BABY!!! by Daniel Parrish, Help by Sophia Buxton, Gravedigger by Terry Odis, Only by Ronald Clark and The Definition of The Left Side by The Left Side Poets featuring S. Velvet Noose, Nikieta Faulkner, Martin Tucker, Shawnon Corprew, Tolani Oyefule, Sophia Buxton, Ronald Clark, Terry Odis and Daniel Parrish.  However, my absolute favorite is Tuesday by Ronald Clark. It is about love, loss and going after your dream before it is too late.  This poem moved me to tears, in public, on the CTA Brown Line train.

If I’ve convinced you to pick this book up, The Left Side Poets’ Strange Fruit is available on Createspace.com.

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Must-Have Tool: A Solid Support Network

I’ve grown as a writer and I will continue to grow as a writer. I owe much of my growth to my support network. The most valuable thing I have learned, and this is something I wish I had known coming out of college, is to surround myself with a strong group of fellow writers. This epiphany came to me in the form of Jeanne (@jeannevb) who I introduced you to in the first post.

Jeanne and I met in an advanced freelance writing class. We hit it off instantly and spent most of our virtual class sending each other direct messages on Twitter. We’ve remained in contact and due to her pimpstress ways, I have been introduced to a group of stellar writers who have inspired me to write. My network of Twitter writers are always there to provide guidance, support and tricks of the trade.  We grow as writers from reading and this group has provided me with plenty of excellent content.

My circle of birds have not only provided me with support, but with new writing opportunities.  The lovely Jamie (@Jamie_LD) introduced me to Malena (@malenalott) who extended me an invitation to become a contributor to BookEndBabes. I have also had the pleasure of pitching stories for and reading an advanced copy of Ronald (@rprestonclark) and the Left Side Poets’ Strange Fruit. (Strange Fruit drops in nine days. If you love poetry buy it immediately)

There is nothing more gratifying as a writer than to give back to the people who give to you. Thank those who support you unconditionally and do for them what they have done for you. Foster strong relationships that will last a lifetime.  It’s worth it.

As my thank you to Jeanne, I encourage you all to support gone Elvis where she will serve as producer if the project secures enough funding.  For more on gone Elvis and to contribute to the project visit the website.