Callaloo Workshop Faculty Member
Forrest Hamer's Call & Response
From Publishers Weekly
Hamer, a practicing psychologist who lectures at UC/Berkeley, weaves psychology with the African American experience in his first collection, winner of the publisher's 1995 Beatrice Hawley Award. Insight sparks many of these poems: "Because we are unsatisfied, and because we can,/ we look into someone's eyes/ that might love us and we ask, Come?/ Take me from this." Others capture the rhythms of the pulpit, as the beginning of the historical/personal narrative "The Calling," which recalls the sinking of a slave ship in 1749. In the vibrant "Getting Happy," Hamer's two strands coalesce powerfully as he traces a memory trail back through a charismatic worship service to confront his fear of surrendering to a primary, continuing love of his mother. Hamer's clean rhetoric and confident line formations yield precise works that occasionally border on being academic. But when he informs abstraction with emotion, his verse is effective and illuminating.
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