"Mofo' Risin' " by Joseph Powell Review By LB Sedlacek

April 2006

17 Poems

PO Box 10024, Burbank CA 91510




One of the dedications that begins "Mofo' Risin' " is from Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" -- "You may shoot me with your words, / you may cut me with your eyes, / you may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I'll rise." Powell's own dedication reads, "Dedicated to all the mofos still tryin' to rise!!" Having briefly studied poetry with Angelou and remembering what a powerful force she is (especially when speaking of her childhood experiences that inspired many of her most memorable works), I expected nothing less from Powell's own poems. I was not disappointed. Each poem stands on its on with clear crisp meaning, i.e. anyone can read them and get it. And that's quite an accomplishment.

His poems are powerful and relatable even though I must admit that I've lived in the "Bible Belt" (south) so long I had to sit and think for a minute to realize what a "mofo" really is! But, that's the point. I imagine if I met Mr. Powell in person -- other than the fact that we're both poets, we'd probably have nothing in common; yet I and anyone else could find something inherent in their own lives in this particular body of work.

From "The Death of Cupid" -- "I will shed no more tears / Will not celebrate another love song / or write another love poem; / I will take my heart from my sleeve / and put it back in my pocket, / where it belongs, ..."

From "Gratis" -- "You are / the poem / I haven't / written/ yet. // Your words / have shown / me / how free / I am / to be / me. ..."

From "Def Poet" -- If I were a slam poet / and, I'm not, by the way, / I'd breathe similes / into your nostrils / and give you life; / (w) rap metaphors / around your ears / like the garland wrapped / in Billie Holiday's hair; / I would not lull you / to sleep, ...."

Powell's verse is fresh and provocative and sticks in your head. "Mofo' Risin' " is a refreshing entry into human observation and the mind of a poet.

Joseph Powell's work has appeared in "Circle Magazine." He is the author of "Blood on the Page" (2002) and "With Unveiled Faces" (1998).

Copyright 2007, LB Sedlacek, All Rights Reserved

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