Elevate Difference

Check the Rhyme

Talk about a breaking silences; we finally have an anthology speaking to women of diverse backgrounds, backgrounds usually ignored or tokenized in more traditional publications. Check the Rhyme is a new anthology and one of the first dedicated not only to women of diverse backgrounds, but to both “female poets & emcees.” What do I think? I say: Hallelujah, Hallelujah; thank the stars this anthology exists! For one of the first times, female emcees and poets speak about issues as diverse as hip-hop, hair, Hurricane Katrina, and Black history. Long ago, the quest to break silences was begun by such artists as Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lourde; this anthology continues the struggle to have new histories and perspectives discussed.

The goal of the anthology, as its editor writes in the Introduction, is to “teach young girls” that this anthology exists. Finally, we have a collection does not “other” its subjects; the realities set forth under such section titles as “About Hair,” “Growing Up in the Hood” and “I Dream of Hip Hop” are presented as empowering, lyrical communications of realities one may not find in the next anthology of this and that. With both received/traditional forms such as the haiku existing in the same space as rhyme/rap forms, this anthology presents not only a diverse view of the world, but a diversity of poetic forms. Rather than villanize hip hop, this anthology offers new perspectives and offers a space to socially conscious emcees. In Mikayla Simone’s poem “American,” she asks “Where is my country?” I think her America exists in the space of this anthology tackling class and ethnicity and class and love and family, among other subjects.

Frazier’s anthology offers a new perspective of our nation(s), our world(s), and of identification. The result is a publication that empowers and will hopefully throw light on what has been marginalized or unseen.

Written by: Lisa Bower, March 1st 2007

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