Hearts and Spears by Somto Jefferson Uwazie

Hearts and Spears by Somto Jefferson Uwazie
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A breathtaking poetry collection that holds political leaders to account, appreciates women and draws readers into nature’s bosom with masterfully woven words.

Divided into four sections: Anger & grief, Women, Nature and Happiness, and spiced with wise quotes and beautiful sketches, Hearts and Spears, encompasses a wide range of human emotions. It awakens readers to the steady deterioration of our standard of living and the lackadaisical attitude of those in power towards topical issues like climate change and unending military interventions. In the second section, the life experiences and triumphs of women are fully appreciated. The third section, Nature, sings effervescent praise to the most revered African wildlife that now stand on the verge of extinction. The last section, Happiness, is filled with joyous poems that will gladden the hearts of readers and lighten their mood.

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This was the first poetry collection I’ve read that mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic. Like everyone else on Earth, the author has spent well over a year now living with uncertainty and fear. Those emotions spilled out onto the page as he described what it felt like to read updates on this pandemic and the often-evolving advice on how to reduce one’s chances of getting sick. What really made his poetry special was how he responded to this pandemic once the first few months of it had passed by and he had a chance to immortalize his experiences. No, I can’t go into specifics here. It’s best if every reader can be surprised by the twists and turns in his journey for themselves, especially later on once he began to make references to his previous points . What I can say is that his perspective was simultaneously a unique look into how his mind worked and a chance to think about the many ways in which all of our responses to this disease have often overlapped.

While I liked the way everything was sorted out into four different sections by theme, the topics themselves were so different from each other that I did briefly wonder why the author decided to include them all in the same collection. Sometimes it felt a little odd to me to leap from one subject to the next like that. It was like reading four different books that weren’t quite similar enough to each other to be discussed in the same conversation. Had they either been separated or included poems that better wove all of the themes together, I would have felt comfortable giving this a higher rating.

Some of the best poems in my opinion were the ones that talked about how humans react to people who don’t look, think, or act the way they do. This ran the gamut from ideological differences to racial ones, and even that was only scratching the surface of the multitude of topics he covered. I often found myself nodding along with the author’s thoughts on how people should treat folks they don’t like or understand, especially when that feeling between the conflicting groups was mutual. Other passages he wrote made me wish I could sit down with him and dissect them with him. Body language and tone of voice matter just as much when it comes to interpretation, and I would have loved to hear and see how he’d make these poems come to life in person. This is definitely something that should be savored as one reads it.

Hearts and Spears was a thought-provoking collection I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys free verse.

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