Review of Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, “She Searches for God in the Storm Within”, in Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones, and E. Catherine Tobler, Sword and Sonnet (Ate Bit Bear, 2018) — 233-245. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
Content note: Domestic and sexual abuse, religious violence.
This was a beautiful, painful, powerful story, full of strength and fury and might. In any other context, I think I would have given it full marks. In the context of this anthology, I felt let down by the fact that — while there was a strong heroic woman warrior at the center of the story — there was no poet that I could find: all of Helene’s words are a byproduct of her actions, not the other way around. I could make up a reading of the story whereby “poetry” is more than just words, it is also actions, but…I actually want my poets to deal in words and not just deeds, because that is one of the things that makes poets special. So I ended up a bit disappointed in this story, sadly. I wish I could’ve read it first in another context, divorced from expectations of content, for then I would’ve been able to appreciate it a lot more.