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Reviewed by Sierra Blasko for Readers' Favorite
Gaze by Omó Pastor, Amanda Furdge, Bird Nefertiti, and Imani Jones is a powerful, moving, and timely collection exploring the generational trauma of being a Black man in America through the lens of the Black women (mothers, sisters, daughters, partners) who love (and have loved) them. Billed as a collection where "Black women writers peel back and unpack the layers of Black masculinity and the way it affects Black girlhood and Black boyhood," Gaze definitely delivers on its premise. The near-80 page collection is divided into two sections: “dysfunction” and “reparations” with several poems in the second section that parallel pieces in the first.
I loved the inclusion of photography alongside the poems in Gaze. It elevates the whole air of the book, gives the reader a second to breathe in a collection that can get heavy without such interludes, and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Black men photographed in comfortable settings. It gives the collection a photojournalism, coffee table book vibe, and I absolutely love it. Picking favorite pieces is always hard, especially in this collection. Even so, if I could only recommend five poems out of all of them, I would have to pick “Lineage”, “Letter from an absent father (to his son)”, “Fear for Black boys”, “Solace”, and “To mothers who will raise Black sons (with absent daddies)”. “Cool story, bro” is a close sixth, though! This is an incredibly solid collection that I can confidently recommend. I look forward to reading more from all the authors, and I’ll definitely be buying a copy for my bookshelf.