We Are the Young Magicians

Overview

From 'blues poems' to joyful celebrations of youth and Black female sensuality, to impassioned responses to war and racial violence, Ruth Forman's poems are written with the conviction that poetry should talk to people, that poetry 'should ride the bus' and 'whisper electric blue magic/... never forgettin to look you in the soul/every once in a while/n smile.'
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Overview

From 'blues poems' to joyful celebrations of youth and Black female sensuality, to impassioned responses to war and racial violence, Ruth Forman's poems are written with the conviction that poetry should talk to people, that poetry 'should ride the bus' and 'whisper electric blue magic/... never forgettin to look you in the soul/every once in a while/n smile.'
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collection introduces a 24-year-old poet who would appear to be a direct descendant of Nikki Giovanni and Ntozake Shange. Forman is not exactly a feminist, but she writes from a tradition of strong matriarchal women who can ``lose all your children but one / and still be able to stand in the shower.'' Her poems are alternately fascinating and infuriating. At her worst she's angry and didactic, toying with the same racial tensions that the media already plays up ad infinitum: ``i step on any white man / in my path / to gain power for my people / n not only step on him / but stomp him so deep in the ground.'' Her African American jive (and spelling) seems contrived. Yet there are many pieces in which real emotion comes through. Her poems about the Gulf war are some of the finest written on the topic thus far; they assume the viewpoint of someone up all night flipping TV channels, walking the streets, a woman whose ``brother'' is off fighting even though the war's supposed to be over. Here, indeed, Forman achieves a poetry that will ``ride the bus / in a fat woman's Safeway bag / between the greens n chicken wings.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
The Barnard Prize, which has produced several attractive volumes from lesser-known women poets, has gone this year to a 24-year-old African American; her book is a welcome addition to the series. Forman's work acknowledges her debt to the 1960s--her mother's time. She evokes the humor and pathos of passing styles: ``Momma you do not touch my head anymore/ the pick is in the bathroom drawer/ afros are out of style . . ./ my eyes are not used to summertime without you.'' She moves from urban street language to haiku to the standard writing program confessional, and, although sometimes seduced by rhetorical posing, she can be wise and kind: ``The balance of this earth/ is not dependent upon the absence of devils/ it is dependent upon the presence of angels and/ spirit, not color, determines'' (``In a Darkroom''). These are smart, lively poems, sometimes marred by sentimentality and cliche but no less enjoyable for their flaws.-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
Booknews
Winner of the 1992 Barnard New Women Poets Prize. African American poet Forman combines the street-swing of the slam-scene with the background sobriety of life lived amidst war and racism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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