Book Review | Cries of Anguish, Cries of Hope: The Voice of Christena Williams
Book: Black Gold
Author: Christena AV Williams
Critic: Glenville Ashby, PhD
From the outset Christena Williams appears tepid, but slowly, she grows in fervour.
Her tone and unremitting cadence define a soul rebelling against mediocrity, lassitude, and, pervasive vices.
With pounding rhythm, she excoriates addiction and warns against tattered hopes, lost opportunities, maligning tongues, and betrayal. Her message is unequivocal: We are gobbled up, seduced by the seducer, if we only knew. But we are salvaged by knowledge, by our own resolve and resourcefulness. Williams scolds, admonishes, invokes, and celebrates what's left of the human will. Survive we must our legacy at stake. From the waste of human potential to the intrepid journey towards inviduation, Williams delivers with ardent poise.
Pedestrian she can be, but ever so capable, she switches gears sensing she might lose us, if only temporarily. Risking little, she sheds the abstract, reassumes authority, and goes for the jugular. And in tugging at our conscience, she is most compelling.
In Plea to God, she intones with Psalmic vigour:
"I feel alone
Redeem my soul
I am nothing without you"
And we hark back to Paul's Epistle in When I was Young:
Here, Williams seamlessly captures life's inevitable trajectory.
"When I was young
I knew no wrong
did not care of blue or pink
Simple life was
Curious I was.
(When I was young)
I knew no evil ..."
And how refreshing is her stab at society's cockeyed view of beauty. A rejectionist she is in Miss Universe.
"Who told you that you are the best
Who told you that you are the finest."
Her sarcasm spills into Beauty Pageants. Of this "false parade," she questions,
"There are no rules for my kind
There are no criteria we must satisfy
Our beauty is undefined by mystic eyes
What is our prize?"
And her insurrection is ever louder in Society can Hang Itself. Here, she recalls the pains of yesteryear, lest we forget, and rails against a new class of oppressors.
Arguably, the overall thrust of Williams' work is unveiled in For my Mother's Garden to her Neighbours. While fashioned as a plea on behalf of nature, it lays bare an artist on edge.
"Will you not let me spring?
Let me dare show my poinsettia loins
Shining in the moon light
Will you continue cutting me down
To spite my nurturer
Curse my creator
Will you no let me grow ..."
Williams' foray into affairs of the heart is marked by searing disappointment. Still, inimitably, she claims her space.
"You drew me like a navstar satellite
Then you disconnected my poles
Now my signals go haywire," she pens in Now I Can't Get Over You.
"You drew me from the sea
And carried me in the ocean
Leaving me walked up and lost."
In Sh** (shh ...), arguably her most enthralling offering, love is entwined in secrecy. It is unexpressive, unfulfilled.
She is the "secret that will unfold
a love symbol printed bold
[but she is] remanded
"Why are we sh** about it," she asks.
In My Dearest, her passion is unrequited. She is bewitched and in despair she is moved to ask,
"Is it not shame?
To call what may
And even in orgasmic ecstasy there is an underlying futility, a predictable foreboding that we find in Piercing Heart:
In darkness when the candle in the wind was out
I felt no one would recognise all my scars
That I try to hide ..."
Black Gold eventually trails off, not before holding court.
Williams proves her salt as fine poet with enviable range and depth.
Uncompromising, she delivers her philosophy: Fate drives a hard bargain and surely we are burdened. But within us is a creative resource that saves us from the jaws of life.
That much, Williams assures us.
Black Gold by Christena A V Williams
ISBN 13: 9781987616514
Copyright 2018 Christena A V Williams
Publisher: Christens A V Williams
Available at Amazon
Ratings: Highly recommended
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @glenvilleashby