Review: Brief Black Candles

Brief Black Candles (Not A Pipe Publishing 2020) by Lydia K. Valentine

In her debut collection, Lydia K. Valentine wields precise language and classic poetic forms to lay down hard truths about race and racism in America. Many of the poems (“Brief Black Candles,” “Shot after Shot,” “Ferguson, Missouri USA,” “Speaking in Tongues”) deal directly with the many recent police killings of Black people. Other poems about the joys and sorrows of family and love and ordinary life are touched by the extra burden of living while Black.

Valentine has forged art from her experiences. These poems were challenging for this white reader, but the art illuminated the hard truths so I could see them without flinching away. Recommended for readers willing to look.