The pause and the breath | Critical Book Review

In this critical examination, we delve into Kwame Sound Daniels’ poetic masterpiece, “The Pause and the Breath,” a collection that intertwines the singular and universal aspects of the human experience.

A Whispering Authenticity

Daniels’ work resonates with an honesty that breathes life into the pages. The collection skillfully weaves lines, creating a rhythmic flow that mirrors the ebb and flow of existence. The poet demonstrates a remarkable ability to articulate complexity through language, as exemplified in the poignant lines: “When / I was a child, I had wanted better / for myself than a body, unable.”

Navigating the Tension

The vulnerability of the speaker unfolds delicately as they navigate the intricate battlegrounds of femininity and its counterpart, exploring the gendered and ungendered with profound insight. Daniels prompts readers to introspect, encouraging them to unearth their own authenticity: “Words from an ungendered / spirit: I barely know how to speak them. / When will I be fluent in my own tongue?”

Embracing Contradictions

The collection finds solace in contradictions, portraying the speaker’s existence through vivid details and haunting emptiness. Poems like “Pronouns” overflow with life’s minutiae, while others, like “Absence,” echo with a profound void, creating a compelling contrast in the speaker’s existence.

The Sonnet as a Love Song

Taking the form of a sonnet, Daniels’ poetry becomes a love song to the self. It unravels the intricate moments that shaped the speaker, captivating readers with the speaker’s journey of self-discovery. The use of enjambment adds depth, pulling readers into the speaker’s psyche and their struggle to reconcile body and soul.

Flourishing in Ambiguity

Daniels’ writing defies the notion of a mere “coming to terms,” offering a profound “coming of age” narrative for the body and self. The speaker flourishes in embracing their trans identity, rejecting and reclaiming the feminine with grace and determination: “My truth was in / the absence. Falsehoods were the feminine, / until the feminine satisfied the / appetite I cultivated for love.”

Electric and Personal

“The Pause and the Breath” pulsates with electricity, delving into deeply personal terrains. Daniels captures the anxieties and social pressures attached to a politicized body, allowing readers access to intimate feelings and experiences. There’s a raw honesty in the language that unfolds with each reading, making it a collection worthy of multiple revisits.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend “The Pause and the Breath” for its profound exploration of identity, its poetic prowess, and the unapologetic vulnerability it lays bare for readers to engage with and reflect upon.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Atmosphere PressPoetry / LGBTQ+64 pages978-1639884124

In this critical examination, we delve into Kwame Sound Daniels’ poetic masterpiece, “The Pause and the Breath,” a collection that intertwines the singular and universal aspects of the human experience. A Whispering Authenticity Daniels’ work resonates with an honesty that breathes life into the pages. The collection skillfully weaves lines, creating a rhythmic flow that…