Jamaica West's "Coffee Black" Takes An Honest Look At Diverse Emotions

by Resolute Magazine Staff

Jamaica West’s debut chapbook titled, "Coffee Black" strays from the normal structure of most poetry chapbooks. In "Coffee Black", West starts poems where others end, shares pieces that end abruptly and has long and short pieces all of which were written over the span of two years in the different places “as life was lived.”

In her preface, West shares, “Traditionally a chapbook is a small book of poems written by a poet. They are concise, perfectly organized, and boring. I of course never like to do things traditionally… In a world where pretense is worshiped, I was finally able to be as honest as I needed to be about faith, fear, love, Blackness, and depression. I hope that you walk away from this book believing that you can do impossible things.” 

The chapbook is divided into four sections “self; dark & matter,” “love; water & blood,” “heartbreak; melanin & bones,” “protest; healing & revival,” and each section exudes a rawness and vulnerability that allows the reader to feel, and even see, each piece as they read through it.

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Snippet:

my 5 year old frame says

momma

how do you know God created

the stars

the moon

the sky

the sea

she said

because at death every atheist is a believer

perhaps the Big Bang was the voice of God saying “let there be”