5 Book Bites To Chew On
The first time that I ever read anything that Kevin Powell wrote was in 1995, and I just assumed that he was from the Bay Area. It was the famous Tupac Shakur interview in Vibe Magazine while he was in jail serving time that actually peaked my curiosity for the art-of-interview. It was the level of comfort that Tupac seemed to have when being interviewed by Mr. Powell and his willingness to be open and transparent about some very emotional issues that caught my attention while earning my respect and amazement. It felt comparable to a trusted old friend from Oakland, where Pac grew up.
To my surprise, I found out that Kevin Powell is from New Jersey, an activist, a political storyteller, and a cultural savant whose work has been published in Ebony, HuffPost, ESPN, Rolling Stones, and Vibe Magazine to mention a few. Kevin brings the stories of others to life with in-depth interview questions that only leave room for captivating answers.
Grocery Shopping with My Mother is the newest book by Mr. Powell. It is a beautiful project. The back cover picture had me stuck for a moment. There is a picture of a mom/grandmother’s hands on her black leather purse. Those could have been my grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s hands. They looked so familiar and comforting. Those are hands that have prayed over us, fixed some of our favorite foods, and healed some of our sickest days. Those are the hands that concocted the hot-toddies that worked better than modern medicine and the hands that baked the pies we loved so much. Those are the hands that may have picked the switches or spanked our bottoms. Those are the hands that have wrapped around us and told us that it would be ok. It was the hands for me.
5 Bites (takeaways)
- The Nikki Giovanni words at the beginning of the book gave me all the feels for what this book meant. Read it. Feel it. If you have never felt this, you have not lived.
- Kevin is the culture. You don’t have to be Black to feel this book of poems. If you have ever loved anything artistic from the Black culture, this book will pull you deeper into the ocean of love, strife, and victory of those that are of “The Culture”.
- Dear Kobe takes you through the journey that many of us have had with the young to the forever-honored Kobe Bryant. It was an ode to the Los Angeles lifestyle. It’s a poem that everybody can sink into.
- Son to Mother is every son’s letter to the first woman that they have ever loved.
- Tupac and Biggie along with many chapters in the book played homage to Kevin Powell’s love for the hip-hop culture. Music and the people that bring it to us are at times the glue that binds us. Music is a universal language that we can connect feelings and culture to bridge gaps and even heal broken hearts.
There are over 35 poems in this book. It’s broken up as follows:
- Side 1
- Side 2
- Bonus Track
I feel so connected to the haikus in the book. They are powerful and hit home. They bring so many things full-circle. After each one, I thought to myself, “I feel that in my soul.” As a mother, there are poems in that I felt like Kevin was speaking to me or about me. As somebody that has taken care of my grandmother and great-grandmother living with dementia, so much resonated with me. It was slightly triggering but more healing to know that what I was thinking or feeling was not in isolation.
Meeting Kevin Powell after decades of loving his writing and contributing to Black culture, hip-hop culture, and society at large was an honor. He said to my 12-year-old daughter, “You are a genius.” Then he had her say it, “I am a genius.” In that moment I knew that he knew how important it is that we speak greatness and possibility into our kids, and our future. He told me that he has some exciting new projects coming up… one involving Tupac. So, you know, I am here for it. I cannot wait. When you get a chance, grab the book, Grocery Shopping With My Mother.