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Book Review – WHO AM EYE: A Spokenword Memoir by A. Castlin

July 23, 2010

BY JAAN LAAMAN

Who Am Eye is a compact new book by Aron Castlin, aka Akili Mtumishi. Many 4SM readers will be familiar with Akili’s sharp revolutionary analysis from various articles and essays he has contributed to this magazine. Akili is the person who started an ongoing year long dialogue on hip hop, youth, revolutionary culture and politics in our pages a couple of years ago. He also has a new article on Black August, in this issue.

Who Am Eye is unlike most of Akili’s 4sm writing. It is a book of reflective and personal poetry. Of course political insight and revolutionary attitude comes through and is well put in certain lines, lines that resonate like:

‘While guzzling down
E pluribus Unum backwash
from a 40 oz.
melting pot of
Constitutional swill.
Regurgitating fantasies
about:
“Delivering democracy” and
“The audacity of hope,”
mimicking drunken sailors
telling war stories
at a tail-hook party…”

Most of this book and its poems are very personal. The poetry grapples with and reflects Akili’s multi-ethnic heritage. I believe others with multi-ethnic backgrounds will find this book very real, and all readers will learn something. This book and some of its poems might take a little bit of work for some readers. A couple of men I shared the book with, here in this penitentiary, said they had to go to their dictionary at least a few times for word definitions. Some of Akili’s poems are layered and call for thought and reflection.

This little book is worth checking out. Akili writes some good verse. I have only one suggestion for any future books this brother writes. Next time, I hope he will include at least one or more of his insightful analytic essays, to go along with the poetry.

To order: www.akilicastlin.wordpress.com
or write 4strugglemag

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