Last week I had the honor and pleasure of reading and reviewing I’Nasah Crockett’s Death Valley. This week I finally received a chapbook from Zoe Blaq entitled Rage Love Complexity. Like Death Valley, I read it at a time in which my nerves were raw and exposed, so the subject matter hit a little close to home.
You see Zoe’s work deals not only with healing but also with the scars that make that healing an essential part of a black woman’s life. The rage that comes with everything this world throws at us is real, but so many of us do not have an outlet to express that rage safely. Instead, we’re expected to swallow it and be strong so that others may use our scars to heal themselves. But so many of us have never been taught to take that rage and “stroke the ego of an invisible man” who doesn’t give us the same.
Yes, the Rage section cuts to the bone, but Love has its bitter and sweet moments as well. “I Love My Skin and Nappy Hair” is something so many of us have experienced－that fine line between self-love and overcoming the self-hate instilled in us for so long. Zoe captures that perfectly in the first few lines declaring her love of self but admitting confusion when she hears “Black Is Beautiful” but dark is ugly. Yet, odes to black womanhood simply resonate as if we never have to question our own worth.
Of course, Complexity lives up to its title with a mix of haiku, poetry and diary entries. So much of this section so obviously comes from Zoe’s experiences working with children and as a mental health therapist. I also found some of her love of nature that I often see on her Tumblr blog on a daily basis. The haiku selections are so reflective of the entire chapbook: short but sweet and powerful. This is definitely one for those of us dealing with blackgirl isht on the daily and need to feel a little less alone.