Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Book Review | Cries of Anguish, Cries of Hope: The Voice of Christena Williams

Published:Sunday | August 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Glenville Ashby
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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

Empty

And lost

Lord

Redeem my soul

Save me

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

Red lingerie

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

demand available"

[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

Love!

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

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