Recommended: Yes, especially right now
For anyone who lives on Earth. For those who could learn some empathy. For classrooms all over. For anyone in need of some feelz.
With authenticity, integrity, and insight, this collection of poems from some of today’s most compelling voices addresses the many issues confronting first- and second- generation young adult immigrants and refugees, such as cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, human rights, racism, stereotyping, and questions of identity. Poems encourage readers to honor their roots as well as explore new paths, and offers empathy and hope for those who are struggling to overcome discrimination. Many of the struggles immigrant and refugee teens face head-on are also experienced by young people everywhere as they contend with isolation, self-doubt, confusion, and emotional dislocation.
This collection has many different ways of capturing the same message of refugees, immigrants, and anyone who has ever ended up somewhere unfamiliar: We are people, too. With how much hatred and fear surrounds opinions on refugees and immigrants, this is a necessary collection. I feel like this is a good example of how it’s easy to be hateful and fearful when it’s towards an anonymous mass, but to be shown inside someone’s heart and be reminded that they are human, too, the hate and fear are replaced by shame for having directed such vitriol at people trying to make a life for themselves. That was a very long sentence for a very important point.
Some of these poems are very abstract, or so specific that they felt like they were written for the poet’s heart only. Others feel so approachable and familiar, it makes me wish I could talk with them further.
Refugees – Brian Bilston
This one in particular is one that would work well with many people, for the relative ease of understanding as well as the clear contrast that can show someone how misguided their thoughts may be.
Ethnic Studies – Terisa Siagatonu
A constantly needed reminder of privilege, and how some people can’t close a book and leave questions of racism and class in a classroom, because it’s their life, not their coursework.
Talks about Race – Mahtem Shiferraw
For these lovely lines:
“I don’t know what to say to these people
who notice the shape of the eye before its depth
the sound of the tongue before its wisdom
the openness of a palm before its reach”
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