Review of catharsis, Solomon Elijah

“i am stretched out supine across the surface of the earth. / i am the forgiveness that followed the flood. / i am the authenticity of the snowflake. / i am the god in the river you were baptized in. / i am the strike of lightning | surging through water | / making proud men humble | and humble men proud. / i am beautiful and fearful of nothing.”

– the modern definition of beauty, Solomon Elijah

carthasis, volume i is Solomon Elijah’s poetry debut, released in April 2019 and within a few poems it has become one of the strongest and greatest poetry collections I have read thus far. I devoured catharsis. I audibly sighed, gasped, as I read lines, clicked my fingers and tapped my feet, and smiled. Elijah is undoubtedly a phenomenal talent and his spoken word came through on the page as if it didn’t matter if the performance was on a stage or in this collection. 

In the opening acknowledgements, Elijah poetically states how this collection is about release, freedom, self-acceptance, dreams and it ‘teaches black boys how to glow.’ Elijah writes about love but he is not a love poet, he writes about God and our relationship with the church, he writes about what it really means to be free, he writes about the need for justice, he writes for Black lives and for Black joy, he writes about learning he is beautiful despite what anyone else says, he writes about the self and humankind in a way which left me speechless. 

Throughout catharsis Elijah’s command of language and rhythm is masterful: 

“and maybe then ill write us some poetry / and ill laugh when you mistake it for rap. / rest your head against my chest / and listen for the pitter~pat.”

evening, Solomon Elijah

“streams of consciousness found me | / and the truth is | they still surround me. / fed me | drank me | loved me like the loneliness / in a pregnant woman|s womb. / ptsdoom / postpartum depression plus the cyclical succession / of queens and celebrities. / who will remember me? / i pray i will remember me.”

i am not creative i, Solomon Elijah

My reaction to his words was physical – I was moved throughout its entirety. Elijah has constructed a collection like no other. The balance between short form and longer form is perfect and the illustrations are not shoehorned in as secondary – they illuminate the written word; they remind the reader Elijah is an artist in every sense of the word. 

Truly, I cannot be effusive enough. catharsis is a masterpiece; a debut which promises Elijah is undeniably an artist who will leave such a legacy in his words, in his advocacy and in his truth.

“black boy | / wear flowers in your hair. / and laugh in the face of oppression. / know your black is a layer / that looks lovely in a rainbow. / black boy | / laugh like you are free | / because your joy is half the battle. / black man | / fall in love with the way you anomaly. / forgo tension. and dance.”

intersections of back~streets and side~roads, Solomon Elijah

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