Writing on Roots by Biko McMillan
Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International
“But after learning some words in the language of the unheard, I now know that silence isn’t always inaction. Sometimes it’s the precursor to freedom.” -from “State of Matter”
Biko McMillan’s Writing on Roots was admittedly difficult to review because it is just so raw and powerful that it caught me unaware. Reading it is something like the feeling of rapture and mourning at once – two opposing emotions blending together that are normally impossible to capture in words, but McMillan seems to have done it! This poet’s prose summons tears to the eyes, the unflinching and clever style charming in spirit but poignant in purpose.
Writing on Roots tackles life’s many twists and two-sided facets. Beauty and cruelty, youth and age, love and heartbreak, and how it always seems that these faces change at the worst times possible. To paraphrase from its own words, love breathes like a human being but it can fall into death just the same. Sometimes it seems bound to.
McMillan also talks frankly about racial tensions in America, how this unwarranted sense of fear and hatred does nothing but steal the innocence from children. Teenagers. Men and women. Prejudice corrupts lives that could have blossomed into something beautiful. These poems call out the harsh reality of racism, bringing the issues naked into the open. They plead for empathy and change. A little bit of perspective and understanding such as this can make a world of difference, and perhaps with it, fewer and fewer generations will have to grow up under the oppression of prejudice.
“We shouldn’t have to fight so hard for the right to be happy. We shouldn’t have to fight so hard for the right to be alive.” -from “Reminder”
I really appreciate the stronger pieces like “Reminder”, “Black American Poem”, and “Vitality”, but as a body the entire collection is top-notch. Writing on Roots is relevant, accessible, brilliant and I cannot recommend it enough. Five out of five stars.
This book is available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Roots-Biko-McMillan-ebook/dp/B07C13FCC1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540489149&sr=8-1&keywords=Biko+McMillan