Book Review: Call Us What We Carry

Here’s an admission: I don’t like poetry. Like, I reeeeally don’t like it. I’m a big reader, but it’s just not my preferred medium. Maybe it’s because so much is left up to interpretation (and at times I think people overinterpret beyond what the poet intended – some things just ain’t that deep). Maybe it’s because I just wish people would say what they want to say. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t as easily allow me to escape to another world the way a novel does. Who knows. All I know is that I’m not a fan of poetry…unless it’s this poetry.

I only first became familiar with Amanda Gorman when she read her poem at Biden’s inauguration. That piece was arresting, but it wasn’t until I read her latest collection, Call Us What We Carry, that I realized the full depth of her talent. Initially, I read one or two poems at a time – a little poetry snack before bed – so they wouldn’t bleed together. But it wasn’t long before I picked it up and simply didn’t put it down until I had read them all. I found myself dogear-ing favorites – something I never do to my precious books. I want to go back to this writing.

The melody to the words is astounding. You want to close your eyes and get lost in it, like a boat rocking you to sleep. And if you thought ee cummings was innovative when it comes to formatting, he has nothing on Gorman. Not only is the spacing, mode, and orientation inventive, it truly augments the message. This lyrical collection – covering generational wounds, identity, and the pandemic – is searing, hopeful, and progressive.

5 out of 5 stars.

Pair with: A glass of Tempranillo