JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
Petals & Pebbles
5 out of 5 Stars
Before I get into this review, I want to take a cue from a book reviewer that I have grown to truly enjoy, Push Nevahda.Â (Check out the link for some of the most interesting book reviews you may ever read.) In that vein, let us begin:
I met Jazz at the African American Literary Tea in Cary, NC. I was a featured author for my short story in The Soul of a Man Anthology.Â One of the women at a previous book signing that I coordinated at the Southeast Branch Library in Garner, NC, saw me and invited me to the literary tea. I came to the literary tea an hour late because of miscommunication or something.
When I got there, I was so excited. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was in it. The tea was set up so that the guests sat at the different tables, and the authors move from table to table. It’s kind of like speed dating. It was fun to talk about the book, but most of the people there were interested in the fact that I review books.
When I met Jazz at her table, she told me about her book of poetry and was interested in me reviewing it. I took a copy in which she wrote down her information. I was excited to read it.
One part of the literary tea that was great was that each of the authors got a chance to speak about their books and its origin. When I got up there, I was beaming like an excited kid. I told my story about how it was great to be up here with some of my peers. It was so interesting to that I went from reading books to having people to listen to me talking about something that I wrote. I actually got a standing ovation at the end of my presentation. Talk about overwhelmed…
After parting ways, this book sat in my backpack for months. I read other books, did author interviews and wrote on my book. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read Petals & Pebbles. I just didn’t have time to deal with it like I wanted to. One day, I sat down and started looking through the book.
And so begins the book review:
Jazz’s mastery of rhythm and rhyme resonates throughout the poetry of Petals & Pebbles. Although her wisdom is worldly and broad, her subject matter is intimate and isolated. Having studied several spiritual systems, she single-handedly sews together the surreal and the serious. From the ying-yang on the front to the font, the style is both brilliant and blunt.
All poets attempt to create pieces of art parlayingÂ the language into wordplay, and Jazz is able to passionately paint poetic pictures with the most praiseworthy of peers. However, Jazz’s educated worldview does not edge out or overshadow her ability to portray imagery so vivid and relatable that it will touch the reader to the core. Jazz is able to straddle the fence that separates struggle and strength, serving images of bright stars in the night as easily as the harsh scars of a fight.
For example, in one breath Jazz is schooling a dark-skinned girl to be proud of her skin by presenting the African Queens that came before her.
From: “Ode to Terra (And All of My Darker Sisters)”
Honey this (pointing to my hand) isn’t what makes me pretty. It’s only evidence that the white man has been in my family. What’s inside is who you are.If you’re ugly on the inside, then you are ugly.And if you’re beautiful on the inside, then you’re beautiful.
You are a Princess, destined to become a Queen.
Then she depicts the pain and suffering that comes with unconditionally loving a man who refuses to reciprocate with the same ease in poems like “Enabler”, “Bewildered” and “Decision”.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride
You’d rather run, you’d rather hide
From the wealth of depth I hold inside
Let go of your pride
Accept that I’m more than just a joy ride
For you to lay down and say open wide
At times, Jazz is unapologetically Afro-centric and mercilessly militant. Unafraid to share her understanding, this poet shoots ideas with a focus and aim like the conscious poets of the 60s and 70s. From the thought-provoking “What are you afraid of” to the fiery “Vengeance is mine”, Jazz bares her self so that is no mistaking her position on the state of Black people in America.
From: “What are you afraid of”
Why is it that you don’t want to let us go
Why do you keep surveillance on us to and fro
Is your obsession just your warped deranged ego
Why are you so intimidated
I just want to know
Jazz’s Petals & Pebbles presents the passion of a poet. Both pristine and prissy, this book presents prose from a pretty prophet with the prowess of a professor. This book is both beautiful and bold, beautifully told and a beauty to behold.