[REVIEW] A Bastard’s Degree In English, November St. Michael

(Buy it HERE.)


3 things: ⠀

1) I haven’t been adulting particularly well lately. Spare a good thought in the direction of this reader when you can. ⠀

2) November is Native American Heritage Month and for the rest of the month I’ll be reading and reviewing indigenous writers and their work.⠀

3) But before that–what better thing to start November with than a poetry collection penned by someone named November? (Yes, I am ignoring the US election, at least on #bookstagram, because it’s taken over my RL and UGH). Thanks to Support Black Authors I won a copy of the Virginia-based, Jersey-bred poet’s third collection of “semi-autobiographical” observations on his community and life, particularly those having to do with his parentage. I’ve been following St. Michael on Instagram for a while and was thrilled to get my hands on some of his work in the real world. ⠀

There’s something raw about these poems, something that reminds me of brothas sitting on stoops in the hood, street corner cyphers, and the fragility-resistance dichotomy found in every child in every “urban” school. Without sharing too many real details, St. Michael manages to be startlingly vulnerable–he dug a few chunks of his heart out and spread it on the pages with these words. I’m not going to lie and say I understand everything that is being laid down here–I’m a blogger, not a haruspex–but you can really feel the soul in these, whether or not the style is to your taste. ⠀

That said, the collection is divided into three chapters, and the first is my favorite. The poems seem the most complete, the stories are clearer. Chapter two is largely love poems, and while they’re not weak at all, I lost the thread of emotion a bit personally. Chapter three is conceptually very strong and seems very experimental in style–at times I was reminded of some of Maya Angelou’s work in the 70s. But the shift in tone is a lot to digest–I see myself revisiting just that section, later, and thinking about it more clearly. ⠀

This was a nice late-fall-in-the-city read. Not gonna star rate it, but a handful of the brightest autumn leaves to A Bastard’s Degree In English.

Thanks again to Support Black Authors and November St. Michael for my copy of this book.

(Fellow readers! Happy November and thank you for visiting. If you want to purchase this or any other book mentioned on this site why not visit my Bookshop and take a gander at the wares? All purchases will result in a commission being paid to this site, but hey, you like it here, right?)


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