Articles + Essays
A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardner of his soul, the director of his life. — James Allen
Poet Alan King prefaces his second poetry collection Point Blank: Poems with the quote above. The collection is a vivid exploration into his memory and perspective of the events, relationships, and scenes that shaped his life. Throughout its 47 poems, it becomes evident that King is actively demonstrating his ability to direct the story of his own life, vis-à-vis his experiences.
Point Blank: A Review
by The Auburn Avenue Editorial Staff
King, a Caribbean American with Trinidadian roots, invites readers to go on a journey into the complex urban environment of his youth and adolescence, while following him into the present to confront issues that linger unyieldingly in modern day America. It is a deeply personal and anecdotal collection that recalls the past yet recognizes the realities and relevance of the now, even for those outside of King’s story that may share a common experience. In “Hulk,” the first poem of the collection, he writes:
Expressions such as these help to frame the way in which King moves through his journey as a black man, one that must be conscious of the surroundings in which he finds himself. His attention given to time and descriptions of its preciousness are palpable. His astute awareness of the situations and encounters in his life are detailed and lush. Blank finds King in form as a storyteller or narrator of city life, much like Illmatic does with Nas or Lost In the City does with Edward P. Jones. The many musical, art, and cultural references from Stevie Wonder to Raekwon; Dr. Dre to Marvin Gaye; Ernie Barnes’ Sugar Shack painting to famous comic book characters, all set the stage for King’s canvas and illustration of the scenes and people native to his memory. He speaks of these characters and settings like he just recently departed from the moments in which they dominate.
What’s most inviting about the collection is the nuance King provides. All while capturing both the challenges and privileges of black manhood, King makes space for warm moments of emotional comfort and vulnerability along the way. He dedicates Blank to his wife and glimpses of her mentioning are sprinkled throughout the collection. In “The Exchange” he writes:
Alan King writes with veritable character and Point Blank is sure to enthrall those that choose to accompany him on his journey.
Point Blank: Poems, 2016 (Silver Birch Press)
Because the day’s threaded through hours
the way a skewer’s threaded through meat,
because I needed your whispers
wafting through the cove of my ears,
I look for you in a blur of blue jays.
I forget that,
I'm not a man,
just one of a herd
the police are sent to corral.