Part IV: deep
This section of poems is more about discovery and establishing identity than anything else. In this section, you see young Woodson owning her ability to tell stories and challenging herself to start putting them to paper. She starts to realize she has talent and starts to own it. It’s probably why her writing is so powerful now. She accepted her talent as a writer early on and cultivated it early on. I laughed a bit when she made her first book thinking of how many times I constructed books from colored paper as a child. She’s not only discovering who she is but her siblings are too. Odella is the intellectual and wise beyond her years. Hope is the explorer, tinkering with everything and somewhere in there he discovers that he can sing. Reading these poems make me realize just how talented a family Woodson came from.
I think it’s important to see that talent within the black family. Again and again, I will harp on why we need to see images of ourselves in the media. Far too often, minorities are dehumanized and the perception of “less than” becomes the reality. Black youth need to see that there are families full of talent, full of dreams and full of love. That is certainly another element that strikes me about this section. You see the love of the family and that gets lost when you only see the black family depicted as dysfunctional and drains on the government.
The hard lessons of life find their way into this section of poetry. Woodson’s Uncle Robert is locked up and I can almost smell that prison he’s in as Woodson describes it. My heart breaks for Hope as he has to face that prison and the reality of being a young black man. As those prison guards are checking him, I can only imagine that he is coming to the understanding of what it means to be a black man in America. Even then the prison system pipeline is in full effect in regards to the African-American community. What I enjoy here (something I’m not sure I could ever pull off) is that Woodson doesn’t ever really give judgments. She just describes feelings and emotions. The conclusions I’m drawing are all of my own making and I have a feeling it’s intended to be that way.