‘twelve ways to occupy my body’
by Sloane Angelou
i swear / my god wishes everything in my mouth was fluid…
Sloane Angelou is a storyteller and writer of West African origin, who lives and works in Canada. They are passionate about learning from human existence through the process of interrogating the same. They are also the second poet to contact me for a review via the Portal, which initially involved a little Internet magic to achieve. However, I am very glad to have gotten a copy of this for myself.
One of the main reasons for setting up this series of reviews was to open one mind and heart to poets and forms that would not normally have been explored. Sloane’s work is a superb example of the intellectual benefit of doing just that. Here is a sequence of twelve poems that isn’t simply a list, or indeed only a pamphlet. It is an exquisite unfolding of a unique poetic narrative.
What’s in it for Me?
The cover will tell you exactly which twelve ways this particular body can be occupied as a starting point. The pictograms make this explicitly clear in some forms, but others require decryption and comprehension of why the red lines are placed where they are. The text offers clues, too, that there are references to heart, eyes, mouth… but are these the real spaces, or is the poet alluding to more? Are we not one huge space to occupy, if the brain first allows a fertile idea access?
These poems also read as a complete, satisfying sequence, and it is in this form which, at least for me, the most enlightenment is garnered. Here is a reflection on what a body is, how others view it and how their perceptions shape our own journey both within it and alongside it. As a non-religious person, when the text asks me ‘why does God live inside you’ a ternary discussion of the spiritual journey is revealed, reminding there is even more to be uncovered here than the purely physical.
Please don’t let postage from Canada put you off purchasing this sequence, as this is the reminder that poetry is everywhere, in every language and with infinite outcomes waiting to be uncovered if the reader is willing to open both heart and mind simultaneously, and crucially do the work. This, of everything that’s been read so far this year, has taught me the most about why it matters to present your poems in your way, and in a space that you prepare and present as sacred.
Normally, I would highlight particular portions of the text in this bit. This time, I urge you to go read it all, and then make notes, before coming back and doing it again. Take time to learn about Sloane’s motivations and the language used. I have learnt that Chineke is the creator of the universe and everything good in it along with rain, trees, and other plants, and have again been made to realize how little I do know of other significant areas of the world.
Poetry is a means of enlightenment and education. Make this pamphlet part of yours.
Any Other Business
This pamphlet is a perfect 150mm square of beauty. It’s always a joy to get work that doesn’t just refuse to confirm to the word norm, but is also produced outside the size constraints of ‘established’ work. Full marks to Kith Books for making everything about this work unique and special.
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