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Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice

Cover: 'Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice'

Staff Review: "Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice" by Mahogany L. Browne , Theodore Taylor III , Elizabeth Acevedo , Olivia Gatwood


This is an absolutely beautiful collection of thought-provoking poems by an amazing collection of talented poets that tackles topics from discrimination to immigration to intersectionality to privilege ("What's in my Toolbox" and "A Me-Shaped Box" are both must reads on the topic of privilege and stereotypes). It is a beautifully illustrated reflection on the experiences of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and the LGBTQ+ community, and a call to action for us all. In the poem "What is an Intersection?" Mahogany Browne and Olivia Gatwood remind us that "We are an ecosystem, living and growing, depending on each other for survival, evolving and becoming whole."

Every poem is a piece of art, with lines that will stay with you long after you read them. In one of the poems, "Amari Explains a Frown to Her Little Brother", a line that stayed with me was, "...think I'll wait another day to explain to him what it means when someone doesn't like you without ever saying hello." In another poem on immigration, Elizabeth Acevedo says, "Immigration is...learning to hold tight to the traditions and customs and names and memories in one hand, and with the other hand let go and lean in to a place you hope will see you for all the beauty that you bring."

This collection also celebrated those who came before, especially in Elizabeth Acevedo's "Say the Names", which was one of my favorite poems in the collection. As she says, "....instead of stepping over someone fallen or thinking this is just the way it has to be, use whatever power you have to help lift them up to lift them out. to lift yourself up to lift yourself out. Because freedom isn't freedom unless it's freedom for us all." In Mahogany Browne's closing piece entitled "Woke", she leaves us with the line, "we never sleep on what's at stake", which I thought was a really powerful way to end such a powerful book.

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

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