Zetta Elliott has given the reader a challenging, provocative, and beautiful collection of poems. While male readers could certainly enjoy and learn from them, the collection is aimed at the female reader. The poems are partially Elliott’s work and partially the collected work of various artists, both known and unknown. Two poems, “We Are Wise” and “We Can’t Breathe” were inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool.”
It was from these two poems written by a group of high school writers that this collection sprang. Interspersed into the collection of poems are two very short essays, which, in themselves, are very nearly poetry. The reader will also want to be sure to read the introduction because it gives insight into how the collection came to be. Elliott has also provided a bibliographic credit page, but the notes she has provided are a treasure trove in themselves. These notes provide insight into why and how the poems were written.
I recommend this book for the high school reader. Probably young students could read it, but it does contain some raw feelings which might be too intense for younger readers.