Book Review: Breaking The Blank
Book Reviewed by Eryka Parker
If poetry is an artful expression of the soul, the creators of Breaking the Blank understood the assignment. This compelling literary work proudly speaks on behalf of the Black community. Each poem is laced with candidness, nostalgia, and vulnerability and portrays the true essence of the shared Black experience. With rich and authentic imagery, Lawson-Brown and Bishophall have done a phenomenal job of outlining the everyday events of life so that readers, regardless of age, upbringing, or geographic location can appreciate the lasting impact of their carefully crafted words.
The duo expertly curated their casual adult poetry collection which is adorned with diverse poetry forms and perspectives. It artfully encapsulates the Black rite of passage through the ages, spanning various eras and themes, including love. From the section, “Fill In My Blank:”
“Love was an earthquake and our faults caused more faults.”
Each poet took turns tapping into life experiences of love, both lived and lost. Most of us have experienced romance, dating, breakups, emotional vulnerability, and situationships at some point in life, and there are ample opportunities to relate with the powerful themes of each category in this book. The authors used universal language that fosters raw, human connection and the tools of free verse, metaphors, and similes to paint the intricacies of love in bold, colorful strokes. This made their poetry relatable and reminded me of sitting on a back porch, discussing life with family over a glass of sweet tea on a balmy summer afternoon. It gives a perfect mixture of unapologetic truth, well-earned wisdom, and plain ’ol good vibes.
From the section “Breaking the Rules:“
I am dizzy and worrying and fighting the mold. Working, creating and taking control…”
As Breaking the Blank took on wider societal issues such as social justice, politics, struggle, sacrifice, legacy, identity, stress, and mental health awareness, the real-life examples did not waver in potency or relevancy.
These topics demand introspection and action, making you want to attend a city council meeting or a community outreach ministry at your local church. Central to the fabric of Breaking the Blank is the unwavering emphasis on the cornerstones of Black culture: resiliency, cultural unity, progression, and legacy. The work unapologetically celebrates Black life, weaving a delicate fabric of diverse facets that breed instant recognition and appreciation for all that it includes - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In their artful expression, Lawson-Brown and Bishophall demonstrate an uncanny ability to capture the multifaceted nature of everyday life and showcase all its beauty. From the storms of hardship emerge poignant declarations of gratitude for the sunlight of mercy and the promise of new beginnings. The duo presents life’s complexities with finesse and managed to tap into my own reserve of nostalgia. I connected with them based on common experiences, fond memories, and life struggles.
Lawson-Brown and Bishophall have masterfully crafted a transformative literary work that transcends boundaries to develop an appreciation for the richness of Black culture and experiences.
Breaking the Blank not only holds the status of “if you know, you know” within the Black community, it also celebrates life’s beauty, resilience, and capacity for growth, through experiences that unite us all.
In a world yearning for authentic voices and diverse perspectives, Breaking the Blank reminds us of the importance of embracing our collective humanity and honoring the intricate tapestry of life’s journey, woven with unity, love, strength, and legacy.