Book Review: Eloquent Ancestral Voices Speak

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A sequel to her book Kumina Queen, the new work by Jamaican poet Winsome Monica Minott Zion Roses, takes us into the world of history, art, lived experiences, oblivion and belonging with fierce dignity. His poems are biting, sharp at the edges, eliciting such emotion that the reader becomes emotionally entangled in the words. ‘Under A Darker Sun’ takes you on such a journey:

… When he entered me, I shuddered. Stone on stone.
Surely I would suffocate, I would die. Cold on charcoal,
a seeking hand has found my land, has torn a thin veil
before a disarticulated body surrenders. I fainted…

Rhythmic, powerful, provocative, Minott’s poems evoke memories of pain, joy, revelation.

It’s not often that you get a poet whose words strike the heart of his own experiences so deeply that it takes your breath away. Minott is one of them. She not only touches on ancestral and African roots, her creativity, although sometimes opening old wounds, also takes her on the road to healing. She weaves into the daily routines of life that we can all relate to – the wonders of childhood memories, watching “mom” in her daily chores, interpretations of contemporary themes. Yes, several themes, but all woven together by a common thread – the shared story of family voices that runs through us all.

Beautiful Monica Minott

Beautiful Monica Minott

The tempo of Minott’s poetry gets into our heads and mimics our own heartbeats. This is why we feel so connected when we read a poem like Set Sail. It is about a dislocated soul yearning for the warmth of reconnection in its natural beginnings. It’s about the choices we make in life. Whether it is true or false, it is what it is, she suggests. So we remember, we wonder, we bawl, but in the end, we don’t care and we put up with it!

However, all is not lost in Minott’s world. The roses of Sion, the book’s closing poem, tells us so. She concludes optimistically, but cautions: Although life offers us roses, beware of thorns, she wih jook yuh! Nonetheless, with the inherited connection, compassion, eloquence, we can create a trail of “the sweet smell you wear” as we steadily climb this uphill battle called life.

Book Title: The roses of Sion
Author: Winsome Monica Minott
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press
Release date: 2021

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