Review by Juliette Sebock
"There are stories that are sacred. We hold them as a new mother might, supporting them in the crook of our arm or holding them tight to the firm wall of our chest." - "Mamalu | Sacred"
In reading Hali Sofala-Jones' Afakasi | Half-Caste, I found myself believing without question that the poems in this collection, individually and as a whole, hold just those sorts of stories. Afakasi beautifully tackles ideas of grief and identity, of otherness and duality. I've never experienced most of what Afakasi's speaker gives voice to, yet I could feel the pains and frustrations as if they were seeping out of each page. To me, an experience such as this marks an instance of truly wonderful poetry.
Not only did I have no experience of my own going into this book, but I had little to no knowledge of the reality behind these poems. A bit of Googling filled me in where curiosity got the best of me, and where I wanted to know more, yet my limited context coming into it in no way detracted from the experience of reading it.
And reading it was just that-an experience-and a remarkable one at that. I adore poetry (and I suppose I'd be a rather poor poet myself, were that not the case!), but even still, reading this book was special. This was one of those beautiful, rare occasions in which I finished a book and wanted nothing more than to thank the author personally for sharing her work with the world.
It's difficult to pick favourite pieces, but "The Fates" stood out in particular. "Can We Talk in Terms of Memory?" rang through my head for days after I read it: "Eventually we all becomes cliches." But I think the three numbered poems that make up "An Explanation to You Who Will Never Be Born" touched me the most—I finished these and found myself needing to put the book down and just breathe.
I should note that I went into this book purposely with the intention to write an eventual review for Marías at Sampaguitas. I'll also admit that I was a bit nervous going into it. What if I didn't enjoy the book enough to write a review? What if my own ignorance held me back from understanding it properly? It took a bit longer than planned thanks to a damaged package (I'm so very grateful to the USPS for getting it here regardless!), but my fears proved to be unfounded.
Not only did I enjoy reading this book, but it served as a brilliant reminder as to why I love poetry—poems can cross cultures and experiences to drive it home like nothing else can.
Order your copy from Sundress Publications!
Juliette Sebock is the author of Mistakes Were Made and has work in publications including Royal Rose Mag and Cauldron Anthology. She is the editor-in-chief of Nightingale & Sparrow and runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste. When she isn't writing (and sometimes when she is) she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz. She can be reached at her website and across social media at @juliettesebock. She is a regular contributor of Marías at Sampaguitas.