Monday, 12 August 2013

The Fat Black Woman's Poems

The Fat Black Woman's Poems
Grace Nichols
London, Virago, 1984, p85

I have opened this collection several times over the course of the last couple of weeks, searching for and finding new meanings and details with every read.

The Fat Black Woman's Poems is a refreshing and challenging look at the world through the eyes of Grace Nichols. It consists of four different collections, each with a different tone and theme running through. The first is the title collection - a series of passionate poems, sometimes angry, sometimes comic, about the experiences of a fat black woman. She contrasts ideas of Western beauty with images of African culture and climate. Nichols isn't resentful or self-loathing, but joyous and confident, full of the wonder of womanhood. She is proud.

The collections that follow are similarly loud. Some are about London life, set in conflict against her African heritage. Some are about family and friends, full of affection and admiration. And some are political, exploring the history of black lives, from slavery to racism and everything surrounding these subjects. 

I love Grace Nichols confidence. She is strong and brave, and her power is perpetuated through her words. 

This is an inspiring collection, both in terms of its subject and its form. Nichols is unconventional, refusing to conform to standard rhyme, structure or language. But in this way, she demonstrates that poetry can be whatever you want it to be. 

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