We’re pleased to bring you our newest chapbook, every evening is december, from poet-photographer j.lewis. Read Ama Udofa’s introduction, then download and dive in!
There is an overused saying that “one picture is worth a thousand words.” What if, however, words and pictures went together, side by side? j.lewis’ works provide a compelling answer to this question. Following up his full-length poetry and photography collection a clear day in october with this evocative and visually striking body of work, every evening is december commands rather than requests introspection.
The poems in this chapbook explore, among others, themes of family, hope, and forgiveness. In “the other fathers,” the persona asks questions: “do you send a card/ to the half-remembered face who/ stranded you with questions/ that would never be answered…” The poem ends in a note to self to be a better father to his own child. A story of a tragic death that still haunts the family is told in “tractors are for men.” In “abyss,” “the weight of a single word/ is sometimes sufficient/ to shift the balance/ over and down.” In “sliding away,” the persona reflects on dealing with loss of a loved one to cancer, and its aftereffects on two generations, one having “…rode his horses across the new mexico hills/ looking for her, for himself, for answers” Having tried toeing different path to healing over the years, watched her “slipping too/ less memory, less harmony, less energy,” he ends the poem in regret for being so much his father’s son.
While “follow me to africa” begins by touching on western view of the continent and its commensurate stereotypes, it becomes a personal plea for readers to give Africa a break from the stilted portrayal of life on the continent, because even after the cameras cut, “life begins and ends/ and begins again/ in the rainbow of the women/ who simply continue walking/ forward.”
This is the essence of every evening is december as it travels through multiple external and internal landscapes. As the reader joins the poetic persona on the road and reaches the edge of abyss after abyss – betrayal, frustration, loss, stereotyping, despair, loneliness – an opportunity for transformation takes place inside the landscape of the poem, a strengthening of resolution or a glimpse of hope. Whatever it takes to “simply continue walking/ forward.”
Ama Udofa studies Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In August 2017, his essay won The Igby Prize for Nonfiction. Same year, he was long-listed in The Writivism Short Story Prize. His writing has appeared at Praxis Magazine Online, Brittle Paper, AFREADA, Kalahari Review, African Writer, and in several other online spaces.